A lawsuit filed against Ameren Missouri by the mother of two children electrocuted at the Lake of the Ozarks in 2012 was on the docket in Morgan County Circuit Court Thursday morning.
The court heard a motion to dismiss by Ameren, but no judgement was made at the Sept. 12 hearing. Judge Kenneth Hayden heard the arguments on the motion and said he would take them under consideration.
Angela Anderson of Ashland, Mo. filed the wrongful death suit against Union Electric Co., which does business under the name Ameren Missouri, earlier this summer, claiming that the utility company is at fault in the deaths of 13-year-old Alexandra Anderson and her eight-year-old brother Brayden Anderson.
The main thrust of the argument in the dismissal motion seemed to be over the interpretation of what liability is assumed by the utility company by charging a dock permit fee.
An attorney for Anderson argued that it is like a fee for recreational use of the dock, thereby making it the responsibility of Ameren.
The attorney for Ameren argued the fee is only for placement of the dock on their property and that a dock itself is the private property of the owner who applies for the permit. Ameren's interest in the lake is not recreational but purely commercial through its operation of Bagnell Dam and the Osage Hydroelectric facility, the company's attorney said.
The siblings died while swimming around a dock at the 6.5 mile marker of the Gravois Arm that was releasing electricity from devices on the dock into the water.
The autopsy report on Brayden Anderson stated the cause of death was "inadequate delivery of oxygen to the brain due to insufficient oxygen in the blood induced by obstruction of the mouth and nose by water complicated by passage of electrical current through the body."
An investigation by the Missouri State Highway Patrol indicated an improperly grounded electrical circuit to the dock, which was not ground-fault protected, was a contributing factor in their deaths.
Ground fault circuit interrupters are designed to prevent electrical shock by breaking the circuit when there is a difference in the currents in the hot and neutral wires. The advantage of a GFCI is that it can detect small amounts of electricity, that a fuse or circuit breaker can’t, and effectively turn off the circuit to avoid potential dangers.