Jury hears closing arguments in wrongful death trial

WTAP News @ 11- Elsa Thompson Trial
Published: Apr. 14, 2022 at 10:49 PM EDT
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MARIETTA, Ohio (WTAP) - Jury deliberations for the Elsa Thompson wrongful death trial will continue Friday morning.

The court was packed with people and emotions.

The Thompson family’s lawyer said, “Elsa was all about giving - giving to her family, giving to her church, giving to her community.”

Elsa Thompson was 85 at the time of her death. She was a longtime Marietta resident who published the magazine Bird Watchers Digest alongside her husband.

In 2019, she died in a house fire.

The lawsuit claims that AEP crews failed to timely respond to reports of the downed line, and that the line was not properly installed nor maintained.

Now the Thompson family’s lawyers want AEP to pay the family $8,000,000 in damages.

“They had the knowledge of what a hazard is, they had the knowledge that this was that, they had the power to take care of it, in fact, they were responsible for taking care of the line,” the family’s lawyer said.

The Thompson family’s lawyers said that AEP did not prioritize their calls correctly the night Thompson died, putting her in fatal danger.

It took hours to respond.

They went further, claiming that AEP did not issue proper training on prioritization.

The defense, however, pushed back….

AEP’s lawyer said, “He responded to the outages where there was the greatest amount of risk to the greatest amount of people.”

They pointed to witnesses who backed up their claim that AEP responded how they were supposed to.

They also pushed back on the alleged cause of the fatal fire.

A defense lawyer said, “The plaintiff’s own fire expert admitted in his report that there were likely at least two ignition sources. Either a power strip or a failed electronic device.”

The defense team pointed to an alleged lack of responsibility on Thompson’s part as well, saying that she could’ve removed or pruned the problem tree and that she didn’t install a smoke alarm.

The jury deliberated for hours, eventually deciding to break and continue the next day.

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