Beware the Wayward Meterman

Date: December 1, 2008

Marge and Edith had moved up from the city and lived in a small home on the outskirts of town. They were trusting people but did keep an eye out for strangers. When a utility man came to the home, their guard was down since it was normal for the utility company to come and check the meter and record the readings.

Unfortunately for the two ladies, this meter man was not too friendly and entered their home and commenced to striking both ladies and then taking all their valuables. Fortunately, the ladies recovered from their injuries but they never got back their valuables, and the meter man took off for parts unknown.

The ladies went to an attorney to see if there was anything they could do about their loss.

Question: Is the company that the meter man had worked for responsible for the ladies\’ losses as well as their injuries and pain and suffering.

Answer: Yes, in this case had the employer of the meter man conducted a complete background check upon hiring, it would become known to them that this particular employee, whom they entrusted to be a meter man, had previously been convicted on multiple occasions of numerous violent criminal offenses. The utility company was, in every sense of the word, negligent for hiring this man.

The utility company could have avoided this problem by simply conducting a proper background check. In Pennsylvania, an applicant\’s criminal history record can be considered only to the extent that an individual\’s felony\’s and misdemeanor convictions relate to the applicant\’s suitability for specific position in question. In this matter a meter man, who is expected to go on people\’s private property, is just the type of individual on which a background check should be made.

The two ladies will be entitled to recover the fair market value of all the valuables they lost as well as additional amounts for their pain and suffering and whatever medical expenses they incur. There is also a potential that the ladies could make a claim for punitive damages. This would allow a jury to punish the utility company for what could be considered gross negligence.

Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive. Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal issues discussed in this column.

Joe Price
Attorney Joe Price is a seasoned Trial Lawyer serving Northeast, Central and Southeast Pennsylvania for the past forty (40) years. He has handled serious personal injury cases in courts throughout the Federal system including New Jersey and New York. Attorney Price is A.V. Rated by Martindale Hubble. He is Board Certified in Civil Practice by the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 1996.