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Changes on the horizon for tort liability

Eight year old Brayden Anderson, along with his thirteen year old sister, was electrocuted while swimming at the Lake of the Ozarks on the July 4, 2012. Now in 2014, the Missouri Supreme Court has decided to hear arguments to assess liability for the incident.

The state’s Recreational Use Act will face major challenges by the ruling. The question presented to the judges is whether charging fees to install permanent fixtures makes a corporation responsible for the acts of those on the land. In the instant case; Ameren owned a lake, which is covered under the definition of “land” according to the act, charges fees in order to install docks on the shoreline. It is in dispute whether Ameren had a right to collect permitting fees from homeowners in order to install a dock on their property. Nor is it in dispute whether the Anderson have paid those fees. The court must decide whether those fees impute liability on Ameren.

The Recreational Use Act was designed to encourage landowners to allow to people to use their land for hunting by not imputing liability on the landowners for the acts of those using their land. However, there is an exception for landowners using the land as commercial property, which starts at charging fees. The attorneys for the Anderson family contend the charging of fees for building the docks makes Ameren fall under the commercial property exception. While attorneys for Ameren argues the charging of fees for the installation of docks do not make them a commercial property; noting all of the recreational activities they do not charge for.

Outside firms have filed briefs in support of the Anderson family. The Missouri Association of Trial Lawyers, for example, has filed a brief stating there is a direct connection between the fees charged and the injuries that caused the children’s death. The death was a result of faulty wiring on the dock; causing exposed wires to fall in the lake, electrocution of the young children.

The court was set to hear arguments on the issue last week. The ruling puts the Recreational Use Act in its crosshairs.

There is a change on the way in terms of Missouri negligence. The court of appeals has ruled the landowners are responsible, but the Supreme Court is set to have a difference of opinion.. The skilled attorneys at Meyerkord & Kurth have decades of experience dealing with insurance agencies, investigators and the federal government. We understand that your family’s safety is the number one priority while swimming in the lake, and we will work together with your to get you the help you deserve. If you or your family has been injured due to landowner negligence, Please contact our office at (314) 300-3000 or (800) 391-4318 for a no-obligation assessment of your potential wrongful death claim.