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Personal Injury Verdicts & Awards

$30 Million Settlement in Area Deaths

August 26, 1990

Staff Writer

The families of two young Susquehanna County men, electrocuted while installing a new roof on a house, will receive nearly $30-million as a result of an out of court settlement, the Sunday Independent has learned.

Thomas A Bush, 32, of South Montrose and Kirk L. Zurn, 35, of Kingsley were killed in 1985 while they were replacing a roof on the home of Bush's parents in Forest Lake Township.

Both were teachers and athletic coaches in Susquehanna at the time and were well known personalities.

They were moving an aluminum ladder during the construction project when it came into contact with a 7,200 volt power line which was positioned only seven and half feet from the home.

The power line was owned and maintained by the Claverack Rural Electric Co-Operation, Incorporated.

Attorney Joseph A.Quinn Jr. of the Wilkes-Barre law firm of Hourigan Kluger Spohrer & Quinn, was retained by the widows of the two men to initiate legal action in a wrongful death suit against the power company.

Initially filed in Luzerne County court due to the fact that Claverack did business in a section of Luzerne County the cause was transferred to Susquehanna county and, ultimately, Wyoming County Judge Brendan Vanston was specially assigned to preside at a jury trial.

An interesting aside to the case two of the jurors in the case were, in fact, members of the Claverack Electric Co-Operative, the defendant.

The jury trial, conducted last May, was limited to establishing claims of liability. Having established that claim, the case was due to proceed to a second case, this time to establish the amount of damages owed by the defendant.

However, an out of court settlement was reached between the parties, thus negating the need for a second trial.

The structured settlement involves the immediate payment of $4 million in cash to be divided between the widows and two minor sons of each man and then a schedule of payment to be issued periodically over the terms of their lives which will amount to approximately $30-million.

It was the contention of the plaintiff that the location of a uninsulated, high voltage, electrical transmission line only a little more than seven feet from a residential dwelling, constituted negligence on the part of the defendant.

The plaintiff demonstrated through complex exhibition of models that the line in question could have been safely located else where, to minimize human contact and injury.

Attorney Quinn argued to the jury that the close proximity of the wire to the Bush home was an unreasonable hazard.

A human factors' expert, testifying on behalf of the plaintiff's, said studies showed that 87 percent of people interviewed believe that high voltage are insulted in a way as to preclude accidental electrocution in the event of contact while grounded . However, Attorney Quinn showed that belief is faulty.

At the time of his death, Bush was guidance coordinator and placement director of the Susquehanna County Area Vocational Technical School. Holder of masters degree in counseling and administration, it was argued that the man was grooming to be superintendant of the school district where he was employed which was Elk Lake School District. He was employed as head softball coach, assistant soccer coach, and junior varsity wrestling coach.

Zurn held a masters degree in mathematics and was a math teacher at Elk Lake district were he was also employed as varsity wrestling coach, varsity track coach and varsity soccer coach.

Attorney Quinn was assisted at trial by partner Attorney Anthony Falvello and Attorney Eugene Speerazza, litigation assistant Richard Shemo.

Quinn has developed a reputation as a personal injury lawyer in Pennsylvania as a result of a series of multi-million dollar jury verdicts as well out of court settlements.

He is past president of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice and a present member of Board of Governors in the American Trial Lawyers Association. He was one of only twenty-eight Pennsylvania lawyers listed for inclusion in the weekly guide entitled, "The Best Lawyers In America."

He is a frequent lecturer at trial seminars in this and other states for trial lawyers and judges.

PLEASE NOTE: Every case is fact specific, and these results do not guaranty the same results will be obtained in a different case.

About HKQ Law

Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn is considered one of the top civil litigation and commercial law firms that has had the privilege of representing more families in the courtroom than any other NEPA firm. The attorneys at HKQ Law have been honored as Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, Best Law Firms by US News and World Report, and have received the AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbel. HKQ Law was recently recognized for one of the top 20 Verdicts in Pennsylvania.

The firm’s Personal Injury Team, led by Attorney Joe Quinn, Jr., has won some of the largest verdicts and settlements in the region's history. The Personal Injury Team focuses on a wide array of personal injury claims and civil litigation, including medical malpractice, auto and truck accidents, aviation accidents, unsafe vehicles, dangerous or defective products, workplace injuries (worker's compensation), construction site accidents, claim denials by insurance companies, dangerous drugs, defective children's products, nursing home abuse and neglect, and falls due to unsafe conditions (slip and fall).

Attorney Joseph A Quinn, Jr. is one of only 100 attorneys in the United States (and one of only three in Pennsylvania) honored with membership in the Inner Circle of Trial Advocates, and one of only 500 attorneys worldwide chosen to be a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He has been a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer every year since the program began and has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America every year since the publication was established in 1987. Best Lawyers also named him top personal injury attorney for Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. In addition, Best Lawyers, in conjunction with U.S. News & World Report, has designated HKQ a Tier 1 Best Law Firm across multiple categories in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.

Since the inception of the firm, the Commercial / Corporate Team led by Attorney Allan Kluger has provided comprehensive, integrated legal services to many of Northeastern and Eastern Pennsylvania's largest corporations, businesses, banks, non-profits and institutions, handling matters involving labor and employment, wills, trusts and estate planning, estate administration, elder law, commercial transactions, residential and commercial real estate, zoning, land use and development, telecommunications, mediations and arbitrations, commercial litigation, title insurance, business planning and business succession, corporate/business structuring, employment discrimination law for employers, banking, creditor’s rights, finance, lender liability defense, covenants not to compete, construction law, mergers and acquisitions and other business matters.

Additional information can be found at or by calling (800) 760-1529.



As Hourigan, Kluger and Quinn addresses the concerns raised by COVID-19, the health and safety of our clients, employees and friends of the firm remain our top priority.

These are very difficult and scary times and we hope that you and your loved ones are safe and symptom free. We recognize that so many of you are understandably anxious about your health, the economic impact of this pandemic and all of the consequences of social isolation.

We also recognize that many of you are anxious about how the coronavirus is impacting the Court systems, our firm and your cases. Although all of our offices are closed, our firm has remained fully operational and we have initiated procedures that allow all of our attorneys and staff to work remotely from their homes. Each of us and our staff will respond to any emails and calls about your cases as quickly as possible.

Our Federal and State Courts have instituted significant changes in their calendars as a result of the coronavirus. Although most courthouses are closed to the public, and Hearings and Trials will be delayed for some time, there are matters that can proceed telephonically and by video. Despite these changes in the Court calendars, we are working diligently on your cases and are determined to do whatever we possibly can to assure an early and just recovery for you and your loved ones. Even under these difficult circumstances, we believe that "Nobody will work harder for you than we will."

With regard to new potential clients, we are not in a position to have an in-person new client meeting, but we will be conducting these initial meetings via phone. New potential clients should call us for a free telephone consultation at (570) 287-3000.


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