By Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun
12:48 PM EDT, March 20, 2013
The city of Baltimore is set to approve a $200,000 settlement with the family of a 14-year-old Randallstown girl who was electrocuted in 2006 while stretching during a church softball game in Druid Hill Park, ending a years-long legal battle.
But for Anthony "Bubba" Green, a former Baltimore Colts lineman who is the girl's father, the end of the lawsuit is far from the end of the cause.
"We don't want this to happen to anybody else," Green said Tuesday as he choked back tears. "We feel this issue is going to help Baltimore to become a safer place."
Green and his wife, Nancy Arrington Green, have become the national face of the danger of "lethal contact voltage" after the death of their daughter, Deanna.
They have won passage of new rules and laws in Maryland and Rhode Island that call for increased scanning for stray and contact electricity, and are pursuing new regulation in Florida.
Green plans to speak about the issue in the coming weeks with the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
"The Greens have taken this beyond their grief over their daughter," said the couple's attorney, William H. "Billy" Murphy Jr. "They have made this a national cause."
The settlement ends a protracted court fight with the city of Baltimore over the girl's death. Her foot had been resting against a fence that was touching an underground cable when she reached for a second fence, completing a lethal electrical circuit. Nearly 280 volts ran through her body.
Anthony Green said he met with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake in January and had a heart-to-heart talk about his daughter.
"This is something that [Rawlings-Blake] inherited," Green said. "This was a very sensitive case for everyone."
The city's Board of Estimates, which is controlled by Rawlings-Blake, is expected to approve the settlement Wednesday.
"There are lots of sympathetic reasons for settling the case," said City Solicitor George A. Nilson. "Certainly, the young lady did nothing to bring this about."
Anthony Green described his daughter as a "child of God" who was a soprano, pianist and skilled softball player. He said he hoped the family's activism would help keep Deanna's memory alive.
Green said that contact voltage is a common phenomenon in areas with underground electric distribution systems across the country.
"Even though she's not here, her legacy still lives," Green said. "This is what we wanted to accomplish — that she'll continue to be a blessing in other people's lives."
Deanna's death in May 2006 prompted the city to remove and repair underground electric lines in several city parks. In 2010, the family reached an undisclosed settlement with Douglas Electric and Lighting, the private contractor responsible for the lines in the park.
In 2011, the Maryland Public Service Commission adopted new regulations intended to prevent accidental electrocutions such as the one that killed Deanna.
The requirements will force state electric companies to find — and eliminate — dangerous voltage in public objects that can transmit electricity, such as streetlights, traffic signals and playground equipment.
The state legislature also passed The Deanna Camille Green Act of 2012, which requires electric companies to conduct surveys of objects and surfaces, such as streetlights or lampposts, that are within contact voltage risk zones.
Nilson credited the couple's advocacy on behalf of Deanna.
"Her parents have very actively been pursuing the issue of stray energy in a constructive way," he said. "We've always thought that settlement should be a option. Sometimes things take a long time to bear fruit."
Murphy, the Greens' attorney, said he believes Rawlings-Blake is "totally committed to eliminating the problem of stray electricity in Baltimore."
The payout is one of two slated for approval Wednesday. The panel is also expected to approve a $150,000 settlement to a man who was held in jail for seven months for a high-profile crime he didn't commit.
Nilson said that suit centers on a case of mistaken identity.
Darren Brown was one of two 17-year-olds charged with attempted murder in 2008 after the shooting of a 46-year-old man inside a Chinese carryout restaurant in Northeast Baltimore.
The case gained national attention when surveillance video of the incident showed some customers smiling and laughing while others continued to pick up food as the victim lay bleeding on the floor.
But in arresting Brown, police detained the wrong suspect, Nilson said. The confusion stemmed from a police officer's belief that Brown shared a nickname, "Mookie," with the suspect, he added. Brown was kept in jail between Aug. 6, 2008 and March 13, 2009, according to court documents.
"The guy was clearly wrongly accused and spent time in jail even though he was innocent," Nilson said.
Brown's attorney, Lon C. Engel, declined to comment.
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun