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Second company sued in SSG Ryan Maseth electrocution death

Second company sued in Shaler soldier’s electrocution
By Robin Acton
Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cheryl Harris and SSG Ryan Maseth

Cheryl Harris and SSG Ryan Maseth

The parents of a Shaler, PA Green Beret electrocuted in his shower in Iraq in 2008 filed a federal lawsuit Monday against a San Francisco firm that once maintained electrical systems in his living quarters.

Douglas Maseth of Allison Park, PA and Cheryl Harris of Cranberry, PA are seeking unspecified damages of more than $75,000 in their wrongful death lawsuit against URS Corp., formerly Washington Group International.

Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth, 24, died on Jan. 2, 2008, when an improperly grounded electric water pump in his quarters in the Radwaniyah Palace Complex shorted out and sent an electrical current through metal pipes into his shower.

Maseth’s parents sued Houston-based defense contractor KBR Inc., alleging its employees performed shoddy electrical work when installing the pump that caused their son’s electrocution. KBR denied responsibility for his death. An appeal the company filed in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has delayed proceedings in the case.

In the new lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, Maseth and Harris say Washington Group International, from November 2003 to February 2006, improperly performed work on electrical systems at their son’s living quarters before KBR took over electrical maintenance duties. They claim the firm ignored preventable hazards, failed to fix improper grounding and failed to conform its work to standards of the National Electrical Code.

The corporate communications office for URS Corp., which took over Washington Group International in November 2007, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Maseth’s parents face a second Christmas without their son.

“It just seems like yesterday that we lost him,” Douglas Maseth said. “He’s on my mind a lot, especially at Christmas.”

He said the soldier’s twin, Staff Sgt. Brandon Maseth, who completed three tours in Iraq, is home for the holiday. Although the family is thrilled to have him at home, the holidays are tough on everyone, he said.

“Hopefully, we’ll get some answers soon about Ryan’s death. I just want somebody to be held accountable for their actions,” he said. (click HERE for original article)

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