June 11, 2019
(Seattle) — A King County jury awarded $4 million today to an injured woman involved in the September 2015 Duck boat crash on Seattle’s Aurora bridge.
Rebecca Rhodes West sued both, Ride the Ducks International, the manufacturer of Duck 6 involved in the crash, and Ride the Ducks Seattle, the owner and operator of Duck 6, for their involvement in the catastrophic crash which left five people dead and many more severely injured.
West, from Billings, Montana, was visiting friends on September 24, 2015, when they decided to go sightseeing aboard Seattle’s popular amphibious tour vehicles. Jurors saw dramatic video of the Duck vehicle, in which West was riding, swerve across several lanes of traffic and into the oncoming path of a tour bus. The video showed West and a friend being ejected from the Duck boat and landing on the concrete road as the crash occurred. West was left with debilitating injuries to her lower body and recurring nightmares of the crash.
West’s attorneys, Darrell Cochran and Michael Pfau, presented evidence during the four week trial that the Duck boat had catastrophic failures in its axle that both the maker of the boat, Ride the Ducks International, and the tour operator, Ride the Ducks Seattle, knew about prior to the crash. The broken axle caused the Duck boat driver to lose control and ultimately into the head-on collision.
“I’m still shaking my head as to why these corporations have spent the last three years denying responsibility, blaming everyone else, and continuing that posture all the way through closing arguments. These two corporations have behaved about as irresponsibly as you possibly can. Rebecca and her friends paid for a ticket to spend priceless time together, and now they have emotional and physical scarring for a lifetime instead. Unconscionable,” Cochran said. “Their defense was absurd given that the Duck’s wheel sheared off its axle, sending a 26,000 pound World War II artifact into an uncontrollable, catastrophic collision.”
Cochran said that West’s friends, Tami Matson and Tiffani Haman, settled their claims prior to the end of the trial for $1 million and $750,000, respectively.