(CN) – A Missouri trial court erred in granting summary judgment to owners of a dam who claimed they were exempt from state safety laws, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled.
The state sued Paul and Marilil Olive, owners of Rainbow Lake Dam, claiming they violated the Missouri dam and reservoir law by failing to obtain permits for necessary alterations to the dam.
The Olives were granted summary judgment after claiming that the permit requirements are unconstitutional because the law in question was passed five years after the dam was built.
But in a unanimous decision, the state supreme court remanded the case to trial court.
“The permitting requirements do not operate retrospectively because they apply to the current ability of the dam to hold back water safely and to the construction of any alterations to the dam required by the dam and reservoir safety law,” Judge William Ray Price Jr. wrote. “The exemption in section 236.435.7 only would exempt the Olives from the initial construction permit requirements.”
Dam and reservoir safety is a touchy subject in Missouri after the Taum Sauk failure of December 2005. That failure, caused by operator negligence, caused billions of gallons of water to wash away a house and a big part of a state park.