Missouri duck boat survivor sues company for avoiding safety standards

Sept. 4 (UPI) — One of the survivors of a July duck boat sinking in Missouri filed a lawsuit Tuesday accusing the company that owned the boat of using outdated equipment to circumvent safety standards.

Tia Coleman sued Ripley Entertainment, Ride the Ducks International, Herschend Family Entertainment and others for wrongful death. Eleven of her family members were among the 17 people killed when the boat sunk on Table Rock Lake during severe weather, The Kansas City Star reported.

Coleman’s lawsuit states the sunken vehicle, known as the Stretch Duck 07, was built in 1944 and used 4-ton-truck chassis, enabling the company to avoid modern safety and emissions standards.

“I can tell you that they don’t have modern bumpers, they don’t have airbags, they don’t have any modern federally required vehicle safety standards,” Coleman’s attorney, Robert Mongeluzzi, said. “Their response has been, we’re grandfathered in because we’re using 1940s chassis.”

The lawsuit also includes similar complaints to other lawsuits filed against the company such as stating the operators of the boat ignored signs of severe weather conditions before taking the boat onto the water and that the company was aware the boats were unsafe.

Coleman’s lawsuit states she sustained physical injuries including pneumonia and chest pain as well as emotional injuries after her “entire family” died in the incident, the Springfield News-Leader reported.

Twelve members of Coleman’s family, including her husband Reece, sons, Reece and Evan, and daughter Arya, were among the 31 passengers on the boat when it sunk, but only she and her nephew Donovan Hall survived.

Coleman is seeking monetary damages and for the defendants to “immediately cease manufacturing and operating all Duck Boats in the United States and abroad.”

On Friday, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley also filed a lawsuit stating the boat’s owner and operator — Branson Duck Vehicles and Ripley Entertainment — ignored safety protocols such as a severe weather warning and life jacket requirements.

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