March 31, 2014
More than 20 people are dead, at least eight injured and approximately 30 are still unaccounted for after a massive landslide broke from a clear-cut hillside and leveled homes about four miles east of the community of Oso in Snohomish County according to published reports.
PCVA has helped people in death and catastrophic injury cases. Often, survivors of catastrophic situations often feel like they need legal advice immediately due to the influx of incoming calls and demands by insurance adjusters calling about property damages, life insurance, or medical insurance coverage. Occasionally, there may be a need to contact a probate attorney, an employer, or a host of other decisions that survivors of catastrophic situations are being bombarded with in rapid succession. Blogging about these matters is a sensitive matter, but PCVA’s goal is to make ourselves available to those confronted immediately with the terrible demands and burdens of being the survivor, left to pick up the pieces and keep moving forward.
PCVA has helped people in this situation. In 2011, PCVA filed several lawsuits against timber companies and the State Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”) to help families who were victims of risky timber practices. Experts retained by PCVA agree that landslides and mudslides occur when timber is harvested on steep slopes in areas of unstable land, heavy rainfall, and defective drainage.
For example, such risky timber practices were the result of a mudslide that destroyed the Ranch House BBQ restaurant in 2007. There, the facts were very similar to the type of logging that occurred right above the OSO Landslide. DNR denied any wrongdoing, but in the end, it recognized that the evidence showed that risky timber practices caused the landslide. Thankfully, the case involved only property and business damages, and not personal injury or wrongful death. More can be read about the case here.
PCVA is also currently awaiting an important decision from the Washington State Supreme Court in the several cases filed in 2011. The decision will have an impact on where lawsuits for property damages can be filed. Oral arguments were heard in the spring of 2013 and a should be released shortly.
Washington law is clear that timber companies can be held responsible for their risky timber practices. The recent mudslides along Highway 530 near OSO in Snohomish County underscore exactly how risky timber practices can lead to catastrophe. Sadly, the evidence is mounting that risky timber practices, coupled with rain and other elements, caused the perfect recipe for one of the worst disaster tragedies that Washington has ever seen. PCVA extends their deepest condolences to those families impacted by the mudslide.