Proposed settlement reached between state, victims of deadly Oso landslide
Update: Grandy Lake Forest Associates reached a $10 million settlement with victims and victim’s family members on Monday, The Seattle Times reports. The company was accused of making the slide area more unstable by logging.
State Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued the following statement:
The Oso landslide represents one of the most tragic events in state history, and the sympathies of Washingtonians remain with those who lost so much.
Today’s settlement of the legal chapter of this tragedy represents a fair resolution for all parties.
There will be no trial over the deadly Oso landslide between the state and the victim’s family members.
A $50-million settlement was announced Sunday night, the day before a jury was set to convene in the trial.
Survivors and family members of the 43 people killed in the March 22, 2014 landslide filed the lawsuit, arguing that the state and timber company should be held liable for damages, based on the notion that they made the hillside more dangerous and failed to warn residents of the danger.
The state is expected to pay the first $10 million of the settlement. Insurers will pick up the other $40 million. Attorneys will be paid an additional $395,000 for fees and costs.
The settlement follows a judge’s decision earlier this month that said the state would have to pay significant sanctions after its expert witnesses deleted emails related to the lawsuit. The judge said at least one of the state’s attorney’s encouraged the experts to destroy records.
Lawyers for the state previously argued that accusations over fraud by deleting emails were false.
“No attorney for the State ever directed experts to delete emails, to reach a particular conclusion, or to change their opinions,” the attorneys wrote.
The judge said he wants the Attorney General’s Office to overhaul training practices.
Snohomish County was dismissed from the lawsuit filed by those harmed by the 2014 tragedy. The Daily Herald reported that plaintiffs’ attorneys signed paperwork to the dismissal, but reserved their right to appeal.
Information from KIRO Radio and the Associated Press contributed to this story.