Settlement reached in Big Bay dam break trial

More than 100 property owners whose homes were destroyed by the 2004 Big Bay dam breach will split $1 million as a result of a settlement reached in the trial.

The settlement was reached after three days of testimony on the Mississippi coast. The case was about to go to a jury when attorneys for both sides got together and hammered out the settlement. A jury could have found Big Bay developers liable for the dam break, which meant each property owner could sue individually for damages.

The dam broke in March of 2004 -- sending more than three billion gallons of water from the 1,100-acre Lamar County lake downstream.  The breach flooded and destroyed more than 100 homes. No one was injured.

Testimony varied during the three-day trial -- whether it was negligence or an act of God. According to the settlement, the insurance company representing Big Bay development partners will pay the million-dollar sum, and the partners will add an additional $100,000 over the next 24 months.

Property owners' share of the settlement will depend on the amount of damage each suffered, after attorney fees are paid.