Attorney ridicules claim victims only entitled to salvage value of sunken duck boat

Marc LaVoie
October 16, 2018 - 5:45 am

KMBC Channel 9 News

A lawyer for victims of last summer's fatal Duck Boat accident on Table Rock Lake is slamming a court filing made by representatives of the companies associated with the tragedy.

Using a federal law dating back to 1851, attorneys for Florida-based Ripley Entertainment Inc. and Missouri-based Branson Duck Vehicles are claiming the victims of the July 19 sinking in a severe storm in Branson are only entitled to the salvage value of the boat. Seventeen people died. 

One survivor who lost several family members called the legal assertion insensitive and insulting.

A spokeswoman for Ripley Entertainment said the company is committed to finding a fair deal for the families.

"I think that their claims of trying to mediate in good faith, when they filed this months before they absolutely had to, ring hollow," said Robert Mongeluzzi, a Philadelphia attorney who represents many of the victims' families.

The old federal law is void if it can be proven that the company knew the storm was coming or that they knew the boat was unsafe, said Mongeluzzi, who has represented families in two other fatal duck boat accidents.

"They had a death trap duck boat that they sent out into a storm that they knew was coming," Mongeluzzi said.

Forty-two people have died in duck boat accidents in the U.S. since 1999.

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