Attorney general to carry Missouri's can in huge utility lawsuit

Legal News Line May 23, 2007, 8:00am

Jay Nixon

JEFFERSON CITY -- Missouri Attorney General and 2008 Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jay Nixon now has the Ameren dam-burst lawsuit all to himself. Reynolds County Judge William Camm Seay ruled yesterday that the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) could not intervene in Nixon's civil lawsuit against Ameren. Reynolds County, in south-eastern Missouri, was hardest hit by the December 2005 dam burst. Nixon sued shortly after one billion gallons of water from Taum Sauk reservoir overflowed, destroying a state park. That sparked a year-long feud between the attorney general and the DNR, which failed to intervene in Nixon's suit in January this year. Nixon hailed Seay's ruling in a statement yesterday as another step towards resolving the 17-month-long dispute between Missouri and the St. Louis-based utility giant. He has sued Ameren for damages of around $500 million. "Now that this delay has been removed, I am able to focus our undivided attention on pursuing a proper remedy for Missourians that holds Ameren accountable for putting profits over safety," Nixon stated. A joint state position over suing Ameren for damages to state parks and local communities caused by the Taum Sauk disaster now looks even more imminent. Nixon and Governor Matt Blunt ended their long battle over the Taum Sauk lawsuit with a conciliatory meeting Friday, LegalNewsLine reported. Following the meeting, Nixon anounced he was dropping criminal charges against Ameren. Nixon will likely be the Democratic challenger to the incumbent Republican Blunt, currently serving his first term in the mansion, in next year's election for Governor of Missouri. Seay, a Democrat, is a judge on Division 1 of Missouri's 42nd Circuit based in Salem, Reynolds County. His biography is on page 79 in Chapter 5 of Missouri's on-line Blue Book.

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