Nixon agrees to let dam-burst suit shift to damaged county

Legal News Line Mar. 13, 2007, 10:58am

Jay Nixon

JEFFERSON CITY -- Embattled utility AmerenUE has won an important victory in its on-going legal battle with Missouri attorney general Jay Nixon. Nixon filed a lawsuit last December against AmerenUE over the collapse one year earlier of the Taum Sauk hydroelectric reservoir in southeastern Missouri. The collapse released one billion gallons of water, which seriously injured two children and damaged large areas of state forest and recreation reserves. The attorney general originally filed his lawsuit in St. Louis, AmerenUE's corporate hometown. The company then filed to have the case moved to Reynolds County, where Taum Sauk and the damaged areas are located. Nixon reluctantly agreed yesterday, in a statement posted on his website, to support the case shift. "We had hoped that this matter could have been resolved prior to litigation," it read. "As we prepare for trial, we do not want any more delay." Consequently, St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Donald McCullin transferred the case to the 42nd Judicial Circuit, where Reynolds County is located. Nixon's suit against AmerenUE seeks unspecified damages for the dam burst. However, the company reached a settlement with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources late last year over the disaster for around $100 million. The company withdrew that offer when Nixon announced his lawsuit just a few days later. Nixon's statement said the state would agree to let "the people of that region determine the appropriate damages and penalty."

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