The Wisconsin state Supreme Court recently ruled that a utility can be held responsible for harming the health of a dairy herd with stray voltage even though state-recommended voltage tests failed to find potentially damaging levels where the animals congregated.

“For the first time in Wisconsin, an appellate court has rejected each utility’s argument that unless you can measure harmful voltage at points of cow contact, you could not collect damages,” says Lynn Laufenberg, a Milwaukee attorney representing former dairy farmers Allan and Beverly Hoffmann of New London, Wis.

In writing for the court, Justice William Bablitch ruled there was sufficient evidence to support the Hoffmanns’ claim that stray voltage from a utility’s electrical line had harmed the health of the Waupaca County family’s dairy herd and cut milk production.