Ride the Ducks found to be negligent in fatal 2015 crash

Feb 7, 2019, 2:58 PM

Ride the Ducks verdict...

Phuong Dinh (pictured in purple) was awarded $25.3 million for injuries suffered in a 2015 Ride the Ducks crash on Seattle's Aurora Bridge. (Alison Grande, KIRO 7)

(Alison Grande, KIRO 7)

A verdict for the controversial Ride the Ducks case came in Thursday afternoon, declaring the company negligent in a 2015 crash on the Aurora Bridge that killed five people, and injured over 60.

RELATED: $8.25 million midtrial settlement for Ride the Ducks victims
RELATED: Why is Ride the Ducks allowed to stay in business?

Jurors concluded that Ride the Ducks Seattle shouldered 33 percent of the liability for the crash, while Ride the Ducks International — who built the actual duck boat — was responsible for 67 percent.

The jury’s ruling determined that Ride the Ducks International provided a product that was unsafe to the victims of the 2015 crash.

Damages will be paid to the 40 victims involved the lawsuit, with amounts ranging from thousands to millions of dollars. The Seattle Times reports that the total amount ended up being close to $115 million.

That comes in under the $300 million originally asked for by the lead plaintiff’s attorney last month.

One victim, Phuong Dinh, was awarded $25.3 million for injuries suffered in the crash.

The suit alleged that the previous owner of Ride the Ducks International built vehicles from parts taken from junkyards, and that Ride the Ducks Seattle didn’t properly inspect or maintain them.

Back in November, Ride the Ducks also paid out a midtrial settlement of $8.25 million to four victims. Before that, the City of Seattle settled with 12 of the victims’ families for over $2 million.

Both the city of Seattle and Washington state were ultimately found to not be at fault.

In the crash on Sept. 15, 2015, a Ride the Ducks boat’s axle broke, sending it into oncoming traffic on the Aurora Bridge, slamming into a tour bus.

Since then, a debate raged to whether a median on the Aurora Bridge could have prevented the crash.

The state owns the structure and the city manages traffic, as a judge and the attorney for victims said in a pre-trial deliberation.

In 2003, a state study cited the lack of a center barrier as a safety risk. It recommended sidewalks under the bridge deck to widen lanes as well as the construction of a physical barrier.

KIRO 7 News Staff contributed to this report.

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Ride the Ducks found to be negligent in fatal 2015 crash