Sneed lawsuit against Ameren moving forward; trial date set

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 | 7:13 p.m. CDT; updated 2:31 p.m. CDT, Monday, September 10, 2012
Dan Kelly, son-in-law of the Sneed's, examines a pair of old gloves found at the scene of a house explosion on McNab Drive on March 15, 2008. Kelly, from San Francisco, was with two other family members of the Sneed's sifting through the remains of the house.

 COLUMBIA — The wrongful death lawsuit against Ameren Missouri — alleging negligence in an East Campus house explosion that killed an elderly couple — took a step forward this week. 

 The home of Carl and Merna Sneed at 308 McNab Drive exploded March 14, 2008. Carl Sneed, 87, burned to death inside the home. The explosion threw Merna Sneed, 85, about 20 feet from the home. She suffered burns on more than 30 percent of her body and died three weeks later.

The lawsuit filed in June 2008 by three of the Sneeds’ daughters — Patricia K. Sneed, Pamela R. Heath and Terry L. Sneed — alleges that Ameren Missouri failed to monitor the build-up of natural gas under their parents’ house.  

Several years of investigations and analysis of what little remained of the Sneeds' house are now complete. This week, Boone County Circuit Judge Jodie Asel heard 40 evidentiary motions in the lawsuit and ruled on some of them.

Among the motions was an objection from the utility to the jury seeing 16 photos of Merna Sneed before she died in the burn unit at University Hospital. Ameren is trying to stop that from happening, saying that the photos could unfairly sway the jury.

Asel took the motion under advisement.

Gerald King, attorney for Ameren, referred all questions about the lawsuit to the utility’s public relations office.

Jury selection in the trial is set to begin Sept. 11 and could last up to two weeks.

Supervising editor is Katherine Reed

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