Ameren sued for man's electrocution after storm downs line

Ann Knef Jun. 26, 2008, 3:39am

Bernice Edwards is suing Ameren Corp. over the electrocution death of her nephew Chester D. Chatman who was killed July 20, 2006, after coming into contact with a live, downed power line at the Orr-Weathers Apartments in East St. Louis.

Edwards was appointed special administrator of Chatman's estate by court order to pursue a wrongful death action, according to a lawsuit filed June 23 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Earlier in the month, Anthony Chapman filed suit on behalf of his father, Chester Chatman, against Illinois Power Co., Ameren CIPS and Ameren UE in the same cause of action.

Edwards' suit claims that after Chatman's body came in contact with the live electrical current he was electrocuted "and his body set on fire by the electrical wire, such that the fire had to be put out by foam by the East St. Louis Fire Department."

"That to the information and belief of Plaintiff, the downed electrical line was tangled up with branches and/or brush which hid the position of and danger of the downed electrical line," the complaint states.

The incident took place following an intense thunderstorm on July 19-20, 2006, the complaint states.

Edwards claims that Ameren had been made aware of the downed line "at the latest" by the dawn of the morning of July 20, 2006, at the apartment building located at 1400 Missouri Ave.

"That the Defendant...knew or should have known that the electrical connection referred to above supplied electric service to a large number of apartment residents including but not limited to children, elderly adults with impaired capacity and other adults, including Plaintiff's deceased, who had limited intellectual capacity," the complaint states.

Edwards, represented by Jerold H. Goldenhersh of Belleville, is seeking in excess of $50,000 in damages.

The suit filed by Chapman on June 2 seeks in excess of $150,000 in damages. In that case, Chatman's estate is represented by Andrew O'Brien and Christina J. Nielsen of the O'Brien Law Firm in St. Louis.

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