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Ryals v. United States Steel Corp.

Alabama Supreme Court
562 So.2d 192 (1990)


Wilson Ryals, Jr. (plaintiff) and his brother, David, went to United States Steel Corporation’s (U.S. Steel) (defendant) Muscoda Mines electrical substation, called a “switch rack,” to strip out copper, brass, and other metals to sell. The switch rack was surrounded by a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire. On the fence was at least one sign warning individuals of the danger due to electricity. Nevertheless, the brothers entered the switch rack through an open gate. Shortly thereafter, David contacted a 44,000-volt electrified copper line, received third-degree burns over 95 percent of his body, and died several days later. Wilson, as administrator of David’s estate, filed suit against U.S. Steel alleging the company negligently and wantonly failed to maintain and secure the switch rack which resulted in David’s death. Wilson later voluntarily dismissed the negligence claim and the trial court granted summary judgment to U.S. Steel on the wantonness claim. Wilson appealed.

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