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AmerenUE Held Liable for Electrical Accident

HILLSBORO, Mo. (CN) - A Jefferson County jury recommended that AmerenUE pay three families involved in an electrical accident a total of $2.3 million. Stray voltage from a cable immobilized three teenagers when they jumped into a Jefferson County lake, killing one and injuring the others.

On March 18, 2006, Nic Harbison, then 16, and Morgan Milfeld and Tim Fitzpatrick, both 15, jumped into the lake after sitting in a hot tub at a friend's house. They suddenly became immobilized by an electrical current. Harbison drowned and the other two were resuscitated.

Harbison's father filed a wrongful death suit against Tracy and Ginger Jones, who owned the dock from which the kids jumped, and AmerenUE. He dropped the suit against the Joneses last October. Milfeld and Fitzpatrick also filed suits against Ameren.

Ameren argued that the dock was the source of the stray voltage. AmerenUE spokeswoman Susan Gallagher told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the company does not plan to make any changes to the cable and has not decided whether to appeal. "We do not believe our electrical facilities present any hazards," Gallagher said.

The cases were tried together and the jury voted 9-3 that Ameren's cable under the lake caused the paralyzing current. The jury awarded $1.25 million to the Harbisons, $725,000 to Fitzpatrick and $350,000 to Milfeld.

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