On a chance meeting with an English professor for whom I once worked as a classroom instructional aide, I was informed that she had just left jury service where she and fellow jurors had just awarded "millions" to the families of four Marines killed when their helicopter was brought down on night maneuvers by power lines attached to an unlit and otherwise invisible power line tower.

There should be more details in our distinguished daily newspaper in the morning.

SDG&E lawyers had earlier argued that the public utility was not responsible, and that pilot error alone had brought the helicopter down.

Of course, had SDG&E actually paid attention to the Sabotage Prevention Act (California Military & Veterans Code) and done something about the tower that the utility's executives knew was unlit, then it probably would not have to raise rates to keep up with this year's increase of Sempra Energy's dividend to institutional mutual fund investors... especially as the fines, penalties, and awards for damages and suffering continue to mount for SDG&E on multiple legal fronts.

Under the Sabotoage Prevention Act, anyone failing to act on deficiencies found on inspection of a public utility asset or any other defense preparedness activity in time of war may suffer substantial criminal penalties. The penalties are enhanced if failing to correct the deficiencies results in death.

The Sabotage Prevention Act is actually silent on specifically causing the deaths of active duty service members, but the complete destruction of a Marine aviation element through wartime negligence should be worth something in criminal court.

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