Court: Utility worker not off the hook in fire case


LANSING — A Michigan court has cleared the way for a trial or financial settlement in the case of a home that was destroyed when a utility worker used a blowtorch to thaw an outdoor spigot.

The employee worked for the Lansing Board of Water & Light. There's no dispute that a house in Lansing owned by Cora Hobbs-Jackson burned down, and all her possessions were lost in February 2015.

The utility has governmental immunity in the case.

But the state appeals court said a jury can decide whether the employee was grossly negligent.

The court noted that the employee had a fire extinguisher in her car, but she didn't have it nearby when she used a blowtorch on the water spigot.

The spigot was surrounded by combustible materials.

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