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Private dam not grandfathered from safety regs

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Because the possibility that a dam could break is a continuing risk, an old dam isn’t exempt from newer rules for dam safety. So said the Missouri Supreme Court in an opinion released on May 5, 2009, reversing the ruling of a Springfield trial judge.

The trial judge threw out a suit filed by the Missouri Attorney General against the Olives, who had purchased a farm with an old dam on it. The suit alleged that the Olives violated the Missouri dam and reservoir safety law by failing to register the dam with the Missouri Dam and Reservoir Safety Council, a state agency. The dam was built in 1974, five years before the dam and reservoir safety regulations went into effect.

Registration of a dam triggers the implementation of a safety program and requires the submittal of an as-built survey of the dam. In other words, registration is the beginning of a process that allows the Dam and Reservoir Safety Council to keep track of the dam, make requirements for maintenance and repairs, and review any proposals for modification of the dam.

The trial judge’s decision was based on two points Read the rest of this entry

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How to learn about the economy and form opinions


The biggest problem that I have in understanding economic ideas is that my own economic literacy is limited. I have only a bachelor’s degree in economics and am a poor mathematician. Yet I’m hungry for economic information. Here’s how I get it. Read the rest of this entry

Have you been slimed on the internet?


By Harry Styron

I have been slimed on the internet by accusations that were completely false, and I don’t like it one bit (I say “don’t” rather than “didn’t” because the false statements are still there for all who look). The Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District of Missouri has indicated that an old legal doctrine (the tort of “false light invasion of privacy”) can be applied to intentional statements on the internet that falsely make a private person look bad.

The opinion, dated December 23, 2008, was in the case Meyerkord v. The Zipatoni Company, which involved the situation of Meyerkord, a former Zipatoni employee, who was listed on a website for web domain Read the rest of this entry

Stone County Planning & Zoning Declared Invalid


In MPI v. Stone County, dated December 30, 2008, Associate Circuit Judge Carr Woods ruled that the system of planning and zoning for Stone County (Missouri) was not in compliance with the Missouri statutes that enable counties to adopt planning and zoning regulations after a vote of the citizens. I filed the case, and Springfield attorney Bryan Wade and his associates at Husch Blackwell Sanders carried most of the discovery and trial preparation burden. I assisted Bryan with the trial.

The decision is not final until 30 days after its date. Meanwhile, the Stone County Commission has closed the planning and zoning office while it considers its options, which of course include appealing the decision. Read the rest of this entry

Working with troubled real estate developments


Over the next several months, many investors and lenders will be looking at busted projects and trying to make the best of them. I’ve added a Law Article to this site, which I’ll keep updating as I learn new strategies,  called “Working with troubled real estate developments.”

As with all my other writings, this article is primarily based on my experiences in Missouri, though some of this one comes from my time spent in the 1980s, working with troubled real estate in Oklahoma, after the successive crashes of the oil and gas, banking and real estate sectors.

I’d appreciate your comments.

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