On July 19, a duck boat conducting a “Ride the Ducks” tour on Table Rock Lake went under in a storm, resulting in the deaths of 17 of its 31 passengers. Ten days later, attorneys representing the families of three of the deceased have filed a wrongful death suit accusing the tour company, Ripley Entertainment, of negligence and outrageous conduct. California residents may want to know about the claim in more detail.
The lawsuit alleges that the company repeatedly ignored warnings about the duck boats’ defective design. In August of 2017, a mechanical inspector said that the duck boats violated DoT standards by having their exhaust systems up front and that the bilge pumps would consequently fail in bad weather. The National Transportation Safety Board even noted back in 2002 that duck boat canopies trap passengers and make emergency escapes nearly impossible.
Prior to the incident, Ripley Entertainment received storm warnings that predicted 60-mile-per-hour winds and 4-foot-high waves. To try and beat the storm, the company reportedly told the duck boat captain to proceed with the water portion of the tour. This went against protocol, which forbids water entry with 35-mile-per-hour winds and 2.5-feet-high waves.
The families are seeking at least $100 million in damages. The lawsuit contains nine counts, including wrongful death and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Wrongful death suits are among the costliest for defendants in the field of personal injury law. If an immediate family member of the deceased is not filing, a lawyer may determine who is eligible as a dependent. The lawyer might hire professional investigators, medical experts and other third parties to bring together the evidence before proceeding to negotiations or a trial. A successful suit may cover funeral expenses, loss of consortium and other losses.