City, property firm "negligent" in shower electrocution of Janneke van Gaal

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lady justice. PictureL Wikimedia Commons/Deval Kulshrestha

The municipality of Boxtel, an anti-squat property management firm and a maintenance firm were all found "significantly negligent" in the wrongful death of Janneke van Gaal, who was electrocuted while taking a shower in her home, the Oost-Brabant Court ruled on Friday. Mitigating the poor condition of the building and hiring a qualified electrician to fix existing problems would have prevented the 20-year-old's death, the court said.

As building owner, the court said it was Boxtel's responsibility to make sure that the property was repaired after it was notified that Van Gaal's housemate received an electric shock while taking a shower on August 30, 2012, according to the ruling. This first incident took place just after the two tenants moved into the building, the court said. Camelot discussed the issue with Boxtel officials, and a repair was approved. The maintenance firm then hired a freelancer with some knowledge of electrical issues to fix the problem, and the maintenance firm invoiced Boxtel for the repair, the ruling continues.

Van Gaal was found lying on the floor in the bathroom on January 24, 2013, as the shower was running. Her housemate felt an electric shock when he touched the water, and again when he tried to touch Van Gaal's body. She was dead by the time emergency services arrived.

Boxtel, Eindhoven-based firm Camelot, and Camelot's technical services business were each fined 60 thousand euros in the fatal accident. The prosecutor had demanded that the maintenance arm from Camelot pay 30 thousand euros, but the court disagreed.

"All defendants have had a significant role in the series of events, and therefore receive the identical punishment," the court stated.

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