As reported by NTV ABC News, a woman whose husband was killed when the 92-year-old Spencer Dam failed back in March of 2019 has submitted a wrongful death claim against the utility company she alleges is responsible for what happened (https://nebraska.tv/news/local/wife-of-man-killed-in-flooding-files-wrongful-death-lawsuit).
According to the court documents of the case filed in the district court of Holt County, Nebraska, the widow—Linda Angel—filed the claim against the Public Power District of Nebraska (NPPD). She is asking for $5 million in connection with the drowning death of her husband, Kenneth Angel.
The case documents detail the weather-related incidents that happened shortly before the failure of the dam on March 14, 2019, alleging that a buildup of soil, ice, and water on the Niobrara River ultimately caused the dam to overflow and the debris and water to flood the couple’s property, where Kenneth Angel was at the time.
Linda Angel said the flooding from the dam took down all of the buildings that were on their property, leaving only sand and water behind. According to authorities, Kenneth Angel was probably swept away in the course of the flood, and his body has yet to be found. He was declared dead by the county on June 4, 2019, which labeled his cause of death as drowning.
The action filed by Linda Angel argues that NPPD was negligent because they failed to stop the dam from breaching and then collapsing. It also faults the public utility for not warning Kenneth Angel that the dam was going to fail and the dangerous potential consequences of the failure.
In addition, Linda Angel alleges that both the NPPD and the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (NDNR) did not have the right knowledge or proper training to operate, maintain, manage, and construct these types of dams, including the one in question.
In the court documents, Linda Angel outlines a claim for Kenneth Angel’s burial and funeral expenses, as well as the loss of his potential lifetime earnings. The filing also details all the couple’s lost business, personal property, income and profits, in addition to the discomfort, humiliation, and inconvenience caused by the flooding which resulted in Kenneth’s death.
Both NDNR and NPPD have since filed their motions to dismiss the wrongful death claim. They are arguing that public utilities like NPPD are immune from these types of claims, especially when the event happens during an emergency situation. The judge on the case has yet to rule whether the suit will be allowed to proceed, and if so, whether there will be a limit on the amount of damages the Angel family is allowed to receive.
If you have lost a loved one because of some other party’s failure to do something or their deliberate actions, you may be able to receive compensation. It will not bring your loved one back, however, it may help ease the financial burden a loss like this can cause. Contact an experienced wrongful death lawyer, like a wrongful death lawyer in Denver, CO, about your case as soon as you can.
Thanks to the Law Office of Richard J. Banta, P.C. for their insight into an example of a wrongful death claim.