$50M Settlement Proposed in Suit Over Massive Wash. Landslide

Judge must still approve it
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 10, 2016 11:46 AM CDT
In this March 25, 2014, file photo, a flag stands in the ruins of a home left at the end of a deadly mudslide from the now-barren hillside seen about a mile behind in Oso, Wash.   (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

(Newser) – Attorneys representing the survivors and family members of people who died in a massive 2014 landslide north of Seattle have announced a proposed $50 million settlement with the state of Washington on the eve of a trial, the AP reports. The lawsuit was filed following the devastating March 22, 2014, Oso landslide, which wiped out a rural neighborhood and killed 43 people. The victims or their families alleged that the state, Snohomish County, or a company that logged above where the hillside collapsed have liability for worsening the damage or failing to warn of the danger. The deal was first reported by the Seattle Times, which reported that it still must be approved by Judge Roger Rogoff. Victims' attorneys said they would continue pressing their claims against Snohomish County and the logging company.

Last week, Rogoff ordered the Washington Attorney General's Office to give him internal emails that might help explain when state lawyers handling the landslide liability case realized that their expert witnesses were improperly deleting emails. Rogoff ordered the office to produce the emails, saying it's critical for him to know what they show as he considers punishing the state for allowing the destruction of potential evidence in the case. Attorney General Bob Ferguson has already acknowledged that one of his lawyers knew for the past year and a half that experts hired by the state to determine the cause of the 2014 slide were deleting emails among themselves. But the office insists that its other lawyers were unaware, and that the lawyers and the experts believed the emails did not need to be turned over to the plaintiffs and thus could be deleted. (Read more landslide stories.)

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