In this paper I briefly summarize the Folole Muliaga case by looking at her background and the circumstances that led to her eventual demise. I also assess the consequences and outcomes of this unfortunate event. I will also try and determine if the action by Mercury Energy was illegal. Further I examine the decisions made by police and the coroner and then finally outline the reforms that were adopted as a result of the death of Folole Muliaga, after her electric power supply was disconnected by Mercury Energy.
Folole Muliaga was a 44 year old woman, a mother of four children and the wife of Lopaavea Muliaga (“PAC: Husband breaks”, 2008).Mrs. Muliaga and her family were immigrants from Samoa to New Zealand (NZ) and like many Samoans she suffered from morbid obesity (“Both sides of “,2007).She was therefore not in good health and since 2000 when her family immigrated her health had worsened (Bridgman, 2010).According to this author in early April 2007 she was hospitalized because of breathing difficulties associated with her weight, which was close to 500 pounds. Her diagnosis was obesity hyperventilation syndrome, a condition that restricts efficient breathing and then consequently inhibits the removal of carbon dioxide from the body. On May 11 2007 Mrs. Muliaga was discharged from hospital after undergoing drug and ventilator treatment; by this time she had lost over 60 pounds of body weight. She was also given two machines to continue oxygen treatment at home (Bridgman, 2010).
Due to Mrs. Muliaga illness, she was unable to work as a teacher and therefore her family had to rely on her husband’s $470 weekly salary (Ruscoe & Dewes, 2007).During her hospital stay her electric bill had fallen behind in payments, but her husband had called Mercury Energy, their electricity supplier in early May 2007 to try and arrange payments (Eweje & Wu, 2010).The company however refused to discuss the bill with him without Mrs. Muliaga’s permission, citing a privacy law ,as the account was in her name. Despite this hurdle he went ahead and made two payments of $62 and $45 payment on the account. Nowhere in the bill presented to Mr. Muliaga after these payments did it show a disconnection notice (Ruscoe & Dewes, 2007).The bill owed was $304, of which only $168 was outstanding with $136 due on June 13.
Mercury Energy is one of the four major electrical power supply companies in NZ. On May 29 2007 Mercury Energy ordered the power supply to Mrs. Muliaga house to be disconnected due to an overdue bill of $168 according to Bennett; Cleave; Lilley (as cited by Eweje & Wu, 2010).A contractor operating on behalf of Mercury Energy showed up at her door on that day and informed that her son that power was being disconnected .She invited the man inside after he disconnected the power and asked him how she could get her power back on. According to her son Ietitaia, the man told her to either pay the bill or call the power company. Mrs. Muliaga begged for a chance but the...