The mother of two Boone County children electrocuted in a 2012 Fourth of July boat dock accident at Lake of the Ozarks have filed suit against Ameren Missouri, the utility company that owns the popular recreational lake. The wrongful death lawsuit was filed in Morgan County by the mother, Angela Anderson, contending that Union Electric Co. failed to notify lake dock owners of the need to install electrical protection devices, known as ground fault interrupters, at the dock’s juncture with the seawall to prevent shocks in case of short circuits.
Thirteen-year-old Alexandra Anderson and her 8-year-old brother Brayden Alexander died while swimming at the family’s vacation home in the lake’s Gravois arm. It should be noted that a 26-year-old Hazelwood woman died in an unrelated but similar incident several days later. Ameren has filed a motion to dismiss the Ameren lawsuit, claiming immunity under state law. A hearing on that motion is scheduled for September 12th.
Lake property owners who build new docks must pass a safety inspection by a local fire district in order to receive a construction permit from Ameren. But subsequent inspections are not required if docks aren’t moved or modified. This leaves out countless docks first built decades ago along shoreline collectively larger than the California coast. The newer requirement has only been in place since 2006. In 2009, a Jefferson County civil jury found Ameren liable in a 2006 incident in which one teen died and three others were injured while swimming in Spring Lake near DeSoto. The utility blamed faulty dock wiring in that case, but the jury awarded the victims’ families $2.3 million.
The 2006 code changes at Lake of the Ozarks came only after 22-year-old Tyler Deeds of Olath died two years earlier when he was shocked by a dock cable and fell into the water while helping to remodel a lake house. The latest lawsuit filed by Mrs. Anderson contends that the dangers at the Anderson family dock were exacerbated by Ameren’s approval of a large marina and a waterfront restaurant located nearby. The complaint states that increased boat traffic from the business subjected the family’s dock and others to increased “wear, tear and stress.” Bogdan A. Susan, a lawyer with Holder Susan Slusher Oxehandler located in Columbus, Mo., represents Mrs. Anderson in the lawsuit.