The former owner of the Edenville Dam has been found liable for nearly $120 million dollars in damages caused when it failed in 2020.
Lee Mueller, who owned and operated Boyce Hydroelectric LLC, was ordered to pay the judgement by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. The Edenville and Sanford dams failed on May 19, 2020, after days of steady rain, causing a torrent of water from Sanford Lake to rush down the Tittabawassee River, prompting the evacuation of nearly 11,000 people from their homes and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.
After an investigation, it was determined Mueller and Boyce Hydro neglected several safety aspects of maintaining the dams, leading to their eventual failures. The state found both Mueller and Boyce Hydro responsible for their failures. Both Mueller and Boyce Hydro filed for bankruptcy months after the dam failures, before a lawsuit was filed by the Michigan DNR and Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).
According to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, the judgement concludes the state’s civil action against Mueller and Boyce Hydro. There are still pending lawsuits from flood survivors against the state for its alleged role in the dam’s failure as well.