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Utilities can be liable when negligence causes death or property damage

The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled utilities cannot be legally shielded if their negligence kills or harms people or destroys property.

Appellate Judge Paul McMurdie says while utilities can protect themselves from liabilities due to damage from power fluctuations, that does not mean they can if their negligence leads to property damage.

The case at hand comes as a loose power line from Arizona Public Services allegedly created an arc causing a fire that burned down a house. 

McMurdie says the Arizona Constitution guarantees the right to recover damages without any statutory limitation.

He added while some contracts can be made to waive the rights to sue, those contracts have to be made on equal bargaining terms.

The case will go back to trial courts for legal arguments.

Greg Hahne started as a news intern at KJZZ in 2020 and returned as a field correspondent in 2021. He learned his love for radio by joining Arizona State University's Blaze Radio, where he worked on the production team.