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Utah Highway Patrol, file

Judge tosses some claims in lawsuit over death of slain trooper

By Annie Knox, KSL | Posted - Dec 6th, 2018 @ 9:42pm

BRIGHAM CITY — A judge has dismissed a legal claim against Rocky Mountain Power from the widow of a state trooper killed when he was directing traffic around a sagging power line.

Eric Ellsworth, of Brigham City, was hit by a 16-year-old driver on Nov. 18, 2016, in remote Box Elder County. Four days after the crash, the 31-year-old Ellsworth died in the intensive care unit at Intermountain Medical Center.

Attorneys for Janica Ellsworth have argued that Rocky Mountain Power took hours to respond to the report of a low power line near Garland two years ago. They contend the wire was so hazardous that the utility is liable for Ellsworth's death, who was hit while trying to alert drivers about the line.

First District Judge Brandon Maynard sided against Janica Ellsworth in a recent order, dismissing the claims. He wrote that while the utility's negligence ultimately led to Ellsworth's death, a crash like the one that killed him was an inherent risk of his job as a Utah Highway Patrol trooper. Ellsworth's injuries were not a direct result or a foreseeable risk of the company's activity, the Nov. 30 order states.

The decision does not affect another portion of the lawsuit that alleges the driver of the car, now 18, was careless when she struck Ellsworth on the Friday night two years ago. She was not criminally charged in the crash after UHP ruled it an accident.

The suit, filed earlier this year, seeks damages for Ellsworth's medical and funeral bills, plus the emotional toll of his death and other costs.

Editor's note: A previous version of this article said the low power line was in Garfield. It has since been corrected to Garland.

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