A construction company argues that Ameren Illinois was negligent when it installed a gas pipeline that allegedly exploded when an employee dug too deep, resulting in his death.

Angela Behme, as special administrator of the estate of John Douglas Behme, filed the lawsuit on June 20 against Ameren Illinois Company, A.B. Construction & Development LLC, doing business as Keystone Construction & Development, Sheppard Morgan & Schwaab Inc., doing business as SMS Engineers, and Villas of Nottingham.

Behme alleges the decedent was employed with Keller Construction on a Villas of Nottingham project in Maryville on April 6. He was operating the excavating equipment when he allegedly struck an underground gas pipeline owned and operated by Ameren. The pipeline ruptured and exploded, resulting in Behme’s death.

The plaintiff claims the defendants failed to monitor the gas pipeline for appropriate depth and the line’s integrity, failed to provide the actual location of the pipeline and failed to monitor the gas pipeline during construction and excavation in the area.

Third-party defendant Keller Construction answered the complaint on Dec. 16 through attorney Charles Schmidt of Brandon & Schmidt in Carbondale.

The third-party defendant alleges Ameren failed to install the gas pipeline with appropriate cover, failed to minor the gas pipeline for appropriate depth location, failed to monitor the location and integrity of the gas pipeline, failed to provide notification of the actual location and depth of the gas pipeline, failed to ensure proper marking and re-marking of the actual location of the gas pipeline and failed to monitor the gas pipeline during construction and excavation of the “Villas of Nottingham” subdivision construction project.

Behme filed a motion to compel on Dec. 22 through Belleville attorney Thomas Keefe.

The plaintiff filed her first interrogatories and requests for production on Nov. 9, seeking “information related to Ameren’s own locating and marking programs for gas pipeline facilities as well as information related to Ameren’s relationship with third-party locating and marking companies.”

Ameren objected to the request on Dec. 3, arguing that “those discovery requests – to the extent they seek information regarding Ameren’s own internal locating policies/procedures/programs, as opposed to information regarding Ameren’s involvement with third party locators – are irrelevant.”

However, Behme argues that Ameren’s internal locating and marking policies and procedures could reasonably lead to the discovery of evidence that “Ameren failed to ensure proper marking and re-marking of the gas pipeline location.”

Ameren filed a memorandum in opposition to plaintiff’s motion to compel on Dec. 30 through attorneys Stephen Wigginton, Karen Baudendistel and Tod Stephens of Armstrong Teasdale in St. Louis.

The defendant argues that Behme seeks documents beyond the scope of the Illinois Underground Utility Facilities Damage Prevention Act and the Illinois State-Wide One-Call Notice System, making them irrelevant.

Ameren further alleges that the plaintiff’s requests “are so broad that they also seek documents created by AIC’s counsel and claims representatives in investigating the occurrence, preparing a defense to the lawsuit, and gathering information and documents responsive to the parties’ written discovery.”

“AIC has no obligation to create a privilege log of such activities and documents in this case. AIC requests this court to sustain its objections to these requests. To the extent AIC withholds any document created by a non-attorney or claims representative based on attorney-client privilege or work product doctrine, AIC will create a privilege log of such documents,” the memorandum continues.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 16-L-324

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Armstrong Teasdale St. Clair County Circuit Court

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