A jury in Washington State awarded electronics technician Verl Lee $3.8 million for painful and unusual injuries sustained in an electrical explosion. Lee was working with Advanced Electrical Technologies of Longview when he was contracted to help repair a damaged Variable Frequency Drive at an Oakville, Washington chip mill on January 25, 2010.
Verl Lee sustained his injuries when Daniel Fletcher, an employee of Willis Enterprises who was escorting Lee to a series of malfunctioning cooling fans in the Variable Frequency Drive, struck the fan with a screwdriver when both parties were aware that the fans were energized. Mr. Fletcher’s lapse in judgment caused a short circuit of about 700 volts according the Daily World, a local Washington newspaper. The average wall outlet, easily capable of producing a painful charge, is only 120 volts by comparison. The resulting explosion left Verl Lee momentary blind and with a list of disabling injuries.
According to the National Trial Lawyers blog, Mr. Lee now suffers from, ” hyperacusis (abnormal sound sensitivity) and a case of tinnitus that Dr. William Martin, one of the top tinnitus experts in the world, said put Lee in the top one or two percent of people who suffer from this debilitating condition. Lee also developed chronic pain behind his eyes.” Essentially, Verl Lee’s life has been permanently altered, and he now needs to wear protective headphones and a hearing device to combat the incessant ringing in his ears and sound sensitivity. Lee was an elder in his church and active in both the worship team and the choir. He was forced to give up what he loved because his injuries made it too painful to function in situations with a large amount of people and sound.