Lawsuit Filed in Fatal Duck Boat Accident, Seeking $100 Million in Damages

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The owners and operators of a tourist boat that sank this month in Missouri, killing 17 people, put profits over people’s safety when they decided to put the Ride the Ducks boat on a lake despite design problems and warnings of severe weather, a lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit filed Sunday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City seeks $100 million in damages on behalf of two of nine members of an Indiana family who died when the tourist boat sank July 19 at Table Rock Lake near Branson. Others killed were from Arkansas, Illinois and Missouri.

“This tragedy was the predictable and predicted result of decades of unacceptable, greed-driven, and willful ignorance of safety by the Duck Boat industry in the face of specific and repeated warnings that their Duck Boats are death traps for passengers and pose grave danger to the public on water and on land,” the lawsuit alleges.

Ripley Entertainment Inc., Ride the Ducks International, Ride the Ducks of Branson, the Herschend Family Entertainment Corp. and Amphibious Vehicle Manufacturing are named in the lawsuit, which was filed by a team led by a Philadelphia-based legal firm that has litigated previous lawsuits involving duck boats. The legal team planned a news conference Monday morning.

A Ripley spokeswoman said in a statement Monday that the company remains “deeply saddened” by the accident and supportive of the affected families. She said the company would not comment further because a National Transportation Safety Board is still underway, and no conclusions have been reached. – READ MORE

The duck boat that sank in a Missouri lake last week, killing 17 people and injuring several others, was built by a self-taught entrepreneur who had little to no engineering training, according to new court documents.

Designer Robert McDowell, the former owner of Ride The Ducks, is a self-taught entrepreneur who grew up in the tourist town of Branson.

He made money by altering and manufacturing dozens of amphibious vehicles, though he lacked the proper engineering skills to do so, according to his own testimony.

In a deposition last year on a separate matter, McDowell said he taught himself how to rebuild and maintain a fleet of duck boats despite lacking any training or certification in mechanics.

McDowell managed to turn his Ride The Ducks boat business into a lucrative one before selling it in 2004.

Since then, Ride The Ducks, through its various corporate iterations, has been linked to several high-profile accidents, including last week’s horrific one that devastated an entire community. Nine of the 17 people killed last Thursday were members of the same Indiana family. – READ MORE

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