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3 Years After Fatal Duck-Boat Crash, a $123M Award

Victims and families of 2015 Seattle collision are handed decision by jury
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2019 6:30 AM CST
In this Sept. 24, 2015, file photo, a Ride the Ducks amphibious tour bus, right, and a charter bus remain at the scene of a multiple fatality collision on the Aurora Bridge in Seattle.   (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

(Newser) – Dozens of victims of a 2015 duck boat crash in Washington state that killed five and injured more than 60 have just been handed a hefty sum by a Seattle jury. After what Law.com calls a "marathon trial" that started back in October—one of the plaintiff's attorneys says it was the longest personal-injury case ever in the Evergreen State—a $123 million payout was ordered for the almost 40 victims and families. The vehicle from local tour operator Ride the Ducks of Seattle was going over the Aurora Bridge on Sept. 24, 2015, when it collided with a charter bus filled with college students. The lawsuit alleged one of the duck boat's axle's had busted, leading to the accident.

The jury found Ride the Ducks of Seattle about one-third at fault for the crash, while placing two-thirds of the blame for the accident on Ride the Ducks International, which built the vehicle, per the AP and MyNorthwest.com. The plaintiffs' complaint had alleged that Ride the Ducks of Seattle had dismissed a 2013 service announcement to take care of a known axle flaw; all other Ride the Ducks operations outside of Seattle had reportedly made the fix. "I hope [the award] will inspire other people to bring these lawsuits against, at least, this company that put this product on the marketplace, so all the vehicles on the roads are no longer on the roads," the plaintiffs' lead trial attorney, Karen Koehler, said, per Law.com. (The captain of a duck boat that sank in Missouri last summer, killing 17, was indicted in the fall.)

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