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$3M settlement reached over death of electrocuted worker

Updated: September 25, 2013 12:10PM

Commonwealth Edison will pay $3.2 million to settle a lawsuit with the family of a man electrocuted while working on a bridge painting project in northwest suburban Elgin in 2008.

Javier Valadez, 31, was riding in an aerial lift bucket to sandblast the underside of the U.S. 20 Bridge at the Fox River on June 11, 2008, when he made contact with overhead distribution lines and was electrocuted, according to a statement from Corboy and Demetrio, the law firm that represented Valadez’ family in the wrongful death suit.

Another worker, Ionnis Maroulis, 44, also was killed. A Kane County Coroner’s jury ruled the deaths accidental, the Courier-News reported at the time.

Valadez’ wife, Leonor Valadez, sued ComEd, filed the suit in Cook County, alleging the utility was negligent in not making the electrical lines safe by de-energizing or de-sleeving them. She also sued Hertz Equipment Rental Co., the lessor of the lift, and Eagle Paint, Valadez’ employer, the attorneys said.

Valadez had only worked for the painting company for a week, according to reports.

The suit claimed the lines were “open and obvious” and the crew had only a last-minute warning to stay clear, the statement said.

An attorney for ComEd testified in 2008 that Eagle Painting made a call to request a power shut-off, but did so less than 14 days prior to the accident. According to ComEd procedure, workers needing access to high-voltage lines need to request deactivation at least 14 days ahead of time.

ComEd paid $3.2 million of the settlement, while Hertz paid $25,000 and Eagle Paint agreed to waive its lien of $243,000 and continue worker’s compensation benefits through December, the statement said.

Valadez left behind his wife and two children, now 12 and 9, according to the statement.

A ComEd spokesman declined to comment on the settlement Wednesday morning.

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