I-Team: Partial settlement in suit over child nearly killed by downed wire

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CLEVELAND, Ohio- The FOX 8 I-Team has found the city of Cleveland paying big money to the family of a child permanently disabled by a downed power line.

The incident happened in 2012 in the days after Superstorm Sandy blew through Cleveland. 12-year-old Gasia Thomas somehow touched a live wire that had fallen. She suffered permanent injuries.

Now the I-Team has found a partial settlement of a lawsuit. Records show Cleveland has agreed to pay the family $700,000.

The family sued the city and power companies. Neighbors said they had called about downed wires in the days before Gasia got shocked. And Cleveland punished a police officer saying he had been sent to check out a report of dangerous electrical lines dangling, but he noticed only phone wires down.

Court records recently filed show Gasia suffered “severe burns” and “profound neurologic injury” and more. She needs “round-the-clock” care, and she will need “extensive care for the remainder of her life.”

Despite the settlement with the city, the lawsuit is still going forward against First Energy and CEI. In court filings, the power companies have denied blame. Meantime, the family attorneys have pressed to find out how many power crews had done work in that area around the time of the incident. How many of those crews had done work there with the capability for clearing downed lines?

A filing in Probate Court shows the family expects most of the money from the city to go for a wheelchair van Gasia needs along with other medical supplies.

Dan Ball, a spokesman for Cleveland, wrote in an e-mail, “The city does not comment on the specifics of individual settlements. The Law Department reviews and handles each case based on its own merits. The settlement is not an admission of guilt.”

An attorney for the family said he could not comment with the remainder of the lawsuit still pending. And a spokesman for First Energy also said he could not comment.

If the rest of the lawsuit goes to trial, it is set for October.

**Read more on Gasia's story here**

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