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City, state settle lawsuits over Seattle duck boat crash for $4.4 million

FILE - 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 fatal collision on the Aurora Bridge in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

SEATTLE - Washington state and the city of Seattle have settled with 12 plaintiffs who filed suit over the deadly 2015 duck boat crash on the Aurora Bridge.

Court documents obtained by KOMO News show that the city has agreed to pay $2.2 million to nine of the plaintiffs. The other three plaintiffs settled individually for amounts of $75,000 or less.

The state also agreed to settle with nine of the plaintiffs for a similar amount, for a total government payout of more than $4.4 million.

So far, more than 40 plaintiffs have filed suit over the crash, which killed five people and injured dozens more when a converted military amphibious vehicle operated by Ride the Ducks of Seattle veered into oncoming traffic and slammed into a charter bus full of international college students on the Aurora Bridge, which has no center barrier.

It wasn't immediately clear how many other suits are pending against the city and state. Ride the Ducks of Seattle has settled a few lawsuits over the crash, but many others remain unresolved. A trial on the case has been scheduled for later in the year.

The city of Seattle had earlier argued in court that it couldn't be held liable for the crash because the state is responsible for safety improvements on the span. But a King County Superior Court judge ruled that the city and state were both jointly responsible for the bridge and its upkeep.

An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board found that the crash was caused when a front axle broke on the duck boat and the driver lost control. The NTSB said that the axle break was due to improper manufacturing by Ride the Ducks International and lax and improper maintenance by Ride the Ducks of Seattle.

The state assessed a $222,000 penalty against Ride the Ducks of Seattle, and the maker of the duck boat agreed to pay up to $1 million in fines over the crash.

Meanwhile, the Aurora Bridge still has no center barrier more than two years after the crash.

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