Water at gym the subject of Mo. AG's suit

Bryan Cohen Sep. 7, 2011, 1:44am


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Legal Newsline) - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against a Jackson, Mo., couple for multiple alleged violations of Missouri's Safe Drinking Water Law at their fitness center.

Shawn and Lynn McNally own and operate Class Act Family Fitness Center in Jackson. The drinking water well that serves the fitness center is allegedly a farm well of unapproved construction that the defendants illegally used as a public water supply for their patrons.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources learned of the public water system after being contacted by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services regarding several sick children who had allegedly consumed water contaminated with E. coli from the Class Act Family Fitness Center.

The DNR issued an emergency abatement order requiring the defendants to immediately stop serving drinking water to the public. The defendants severed all connections to public drinking water fountains, public showers and hand washing sinks within the fitness center. The defendants, however, allegedly continue to provide toilet services to their customers, many of whom are pre-school aged children.

The McNallys allegedly refused to install a compliant drinking water system, which would restore hand washing services to the fitness center.

The McNallys also allegedly violated state drinking water regulations at their fitness center by failing to meet required levels of microbiological contamination levels, monitor for microbiological contamination levels for total coliform, obtain authorization to alter the water source supply, obtain a permit to dispense drinking water and obtain authorization to construct, alter or extend a transient non-community water system.

Koster is requesting that the court issue preliminary and permanent injunctions requiring the defendants to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Law, asses a civil penalty of $50 per day for the first violation and $100 per day for each additional violation, immediately construct a compliant public water system or connect Class Act Family Fitness to a compliant system, and require all the defendants to pay all costs associated with the case.

"Businesses that serve the public must understand that they have not only a moral obligation, but also a legal obligation, to make sure the drinking water they provide to consumers is safe," Koster said. "There is simply no excuse to violate these laws, and this office will continue to see they are vigorously enforced."

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