Missouri Duck Boat Cases Headed to Mediation in Branson, Missouri
BRANSON, MO. – October 15, 2018 (wsbradio.com) Lawsuits filed against two companies involved in the July duck boat accident in Branson, Missouri, are reportedly heading to mediation, even as the defense disclaims liability in its court pleadings. The story is reported online at wsbradio.com.*
The duck boat accident occurred around 7 p.m. on July 19, when a line of severe thunderstorms moved through the Branson area. Thirty-one people were on board a duck boat (an amphibious tour vehicle) on Table Rock Lake, and the boat capsized during high winds. Windspeeds were as high as 63 mph at a nearby airport, according to the National Weather Service.
Seventeen people died in the accident. Nine of the deceased were members of the same family from Indiana, who were visiting Branson on an annual family trip. The boat’s driver was also killed.
Subsequent lawsuits brought by surviving family members allege defendants Ripley Entertainment Inc. and Branson Duck Vehicles violated company policies by proceeding with the ride in the face of severe weather and by failing to inform passengers to wear life jackets. The boats also needed updating, according to the lawsuits, in accordance with warnings issued by the National Transportation Safety Board. The defendants recently filed pleadings disclaiming liability and attempting to limit their damages, citing law from 1851 for their arguments.
At the same time, however, the defendants have asked for additional time on other filing deadlines, saying the parties are working to schedule mediation to resolve the claims. Counsel for Ripley said the company had already reached out to certain claimants to mediate their cases. No settlement offers have been made at this time. If the claims do not settle through mediation, they could be consolidated in front of one judge and could potentially go to trial.
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