Yetter Coleman partner, Reagan Simpson, achieved a rare en banc opinion from the First Court of Appeals in Houston on behalf of Oncor Electric Delivery Company, which reversed a judgment against Oncor in excess of $8 million. The judgment had been rendered on a jury verdict in favor of an employee of a demolition contractor who received serious injuries when he followed his employer’s instructions to strip copper wiring out of an energized Oncor transformer box, without Oncor’s authorization. Oncor had no employees at the work site at the time of the injury, nor had any of its personnel been at the site during the previous two weeks.
In the en banc opinion, which superseded an earlier panel decision affirming the judgment, the court held that the energized copper wires inside the transformer box constituted a condition of property, requiring the submission of a premises liability theory against Oncor. The court reversed and rendered a take-nothing judgment because the plaintiff submitted a negligent activity charge, despite objections from defense counsel that Texas law required a premises liability submission.