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Electrocuted Man Horrifically Burned and Paralyzed due to Power Company‚Äôs Negligence

Oncor Electric Delivery, a power company in Texas, believed it enjoyed legal immunity because it was a utility provider. Consequently, it put profits over the safety of its customers, causing a man to be catastrophically electrocuted. An Oncor power line traversed the property of Stacey Taylor, a husband and father living in rural Texas. Nearby tree branches had grown over the power line and needed pruning. Sensing the risk, Stacey called Oncor and asked them to send a trained specialist to clear the branches. Oncor, however, didn’t want to pay for the work and informed Stacey that he needed to trim the branches himself. Believing that Oncor wouldn’t knowingly put him in life-threatening danger, Stacey grabbed his ladder and shears to cut back the branches. Tragically, the branches touched the power line, sending a massive surge of electricity into Stacey’s body. His injuries were catastrophic.

Stacey Taylor suffered first-, second-, third-, and fourth-degree burns on over 20% of his body; eye injuries including a corneal abrasion, cataracts, and swollen eyes; burns on his neck, which restricted his airway; burns on his legs and back; as well as damage to his spinal cord that rendered him quadriplegic. He endured months of suffering while attempting to recover from the incident.

Sean Breen of Howry, Breen & Herman, LLP was contacted by Stacey’s family right after the accident. Sean, a trial attorney with years of experience prosecuting personal injury cases, hired a team of experts: an accident reconstructionist, a liability expert, a damage expert, a burn expert, an orthopedic surgeon, a life care planner, an economist, and a psychologist. They found that Oncor Electric Delivery had taken advantage of Stacey and made him believe trimming the tree was his responsibility. Legally, Oncor should have sent a trained professional with specialized equipment.

Oncor’s legal team was large and had deep pockets. They believed that Texas law granted them such expansive immunity that even the most heinous safety violations carried no penalties for them. They refused to offer Stacey a settlement. Worse, they used delay tactics to postpone legal proceedings, hoping that Sean and his team would either run out of money or grow tired of fighting. They even appealed a motion all the way to the Texas Supreme Court.

Sean knew the only way to help Stacey was to take the case to trial. He needed to show the jury that the company’s negligence was responsible for Stacey’s electrocution and paralysis. Sean had to tell a compelling story that showed the extent of Stacey’s damages. Thus, he contacted DK Global for a visual demonstrative.

DK Global worked with Sean and his experts to create an animation that covered Stacey’s two major areas of injury: burn trauma and spinal cord damage. The animation opened with an illustration of Stacey’s body, highlighting each burn. It also showed a visual of the layers of Stacey’s skin, including the epidermis, hair follicles, oil and sweat glands, veins, and nerve endings. The animation demonstrated which layers each burn level penetrated. Photos of Stacey in the hospital were also shown, explaining each injury.

On his head alone, for example, the presentation summarized the wounds Stacey sustained, along with a graphic description of the fluid that was seeping out of each injury. He also suffered burns, a blood clot on his scalp, one of his eyes was swollen shut, both eyes had cataracts from the electrocution, and burns to his neck restricted his airway. Finally, the animation showed the effects of the burns on his spinal cord — partial quadriplegia, muscle weakness, involuntary muscle contractions, muscle tightness, and resistance to movement.

Sean’s first attempt to try the case resulted in a mistrial; the Defense scared the potential jurors that the proceedings would take too long. However, at the second trial, Sean found twelve peers to hear his case. He played the animation alongside his experts’ testimonies. The jury agreed that Oncor’s behavior was wrong, issuing a $54,000,000 verdict in Sean and Stacey’s favor.

Sean Breen is a founder and partner of Howry, Breen & Herman, LLP. An experienced trial attorney, his specialties include product liability, accidents, catastrophic injury, and construction accidents. Sean has been recognized multiple times for his service to clients and the legal profession by some of the most prestigious legal organizations in the nation, including the National Top 100 Trial Lawyers, Civil Plaintiff (2009-2021), and Super Lawyers since 2004, and the Best Lawyers 2020 Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs “Lawyer of the Year” in Austin.


"I have over $250 million worth of settlements or verdicts that I've used DK Global on, and I'm not going to trial without them, ever."
Sean Breen - Howry, Breen & Herman, LLP
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