Judge begins work on Lamar dam failure case

Published 9:59 pm Thursday, March 12, 2009

A judge has given attorneys more time to file briefs in a lawsuit filed after the 2004 collapse of the Big Bay Lake dam in Lamar County.

The breach unleashed an estimated 7.2-billion gallons of water that roared downstream through property in Lamar and Marion counties. There were no fatalities but about 100 homes were destroyed or damaged in failure of the earthen-dam.

Circuit Judge R.I. Prichard III has consolidated cases filed by more than 100 plaintiffs.

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During a hearing this week, Prichard dismissed a defendant, Simmons Consulting Engineers, which had done testing on the dam.

Remaining defendants include developer Joseph F. “Chip” Tatum Jr., engineer Timothy Burge and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.