Jury finds Ride the Ducks Seattle negligent in deadly Aurora Bridge crash

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)

After two weeks of deliberations and four months of testimony, jurors hearing the lawsuit stemming from the 2015 Ride the Ducks Crash in Seattle found in favor of the plaintiffs.

Jurors awarded the some 40 plaintiffs $123 million – a sum to be paid by Ride the Ducks International and Ride the Ducks Seattle.

Though the plaintiffs also sued the City of Seattle and the State of Washington, accusing them of negligence for not installing a barrier between oncoming traffic on the Aurora Bridge, jurors didn’t agree.

Attorney Karen Koehler, who represented the plaintiffs, sought $300 million for her clients.

“I fought for these people and this, what the jury just did, is exactly what my clients hoped for,” she said. “The defense position is people who didn’t have broken bones are fine and the jury’s position was ‘no, no they weren’t.' No one who was in this was fine.”

On Sept. 24, 2015, the Duck vehicle’s front axle broke, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. Investigators found the break was caused by improper manufacturing by Ride the Ducks International and improper maintenance by Ride the Ducks Seattle. Five people were killed and nearly 60 were hurt.

Jurors, on Thursday, found Ride the Ducks International carries the bulk of the liability.

While a spokesman for Ride the Ducks International couldn’t be reached, Ride the Ducks Seattle issued a statement through their spokesman Mark Firmani.

“Since the tragic accident on September 24, 2015, Ride the Ducks of Seattle owners, management and team members have always wanted to do right by everyone affected by the accident, but have been limited by constraints in the legal process. Today, the jury’s verdict puts us one step closer to that goal. There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t think of those lives that were forever changed that day.

Since the accident, we’ve made significant structural changes to the critical parts our vehicles and instituted a program of regular testing, done in addition to inspections conducted by the state and United States Coast Guard. We’ve done a top-to-bottom review of our operations and have unilaterally made a series of changes including removing the Aurora Bridge from our route.

We’ve been working hard to regain the trust of those we serve and will continue to do so in the future.”

Neither Ride the Ducks Seattle, nor Ride the Ducks International, could be reached to say whether they will file an appeal.

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