November 23, 2018 / 8:24 PM / 3 months ago

Missouri 'duck boat' firm settles fatal sinking lawsuit: report

(Reuters) - The company that operated a World War Two-style “duck boat” that sank on a Missouri lake in July killing 17 people has settled a lawsuit with the family of two of the victims, according to a newspaper report.

Ripley Entertainment and the children of William and Janice Bright, a couple who were killed when the company’s tour boat sank during a storm, finalized the settlement on Thursday, attorney Adam Graves, who represents the Brights’ children, told the Kansas City Star.

Graves and legal representatives for Ripley Entertainment both did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

The lawsuit filed in July in Taney County, Missouri, on behalf of the three children of the Brights named Ripley Entertainment, Ride the Ducks International and the two operators of the boat and sought at least $25,000 in damages.

Graves told the Kansas City Star that the terms of the settlement were confidential.

The newspaper said the settlement applied only to Ripley Entertainment; it does not cover the three other defendants, including the boat’s captain, Kenneth Scott McKee, 51, of Verona, Missouri, and land driver Robert Williams, who died in the accident.

According to the lawsuit, the boat operators launched the boat into the water nearly 20 minutes after a severe thunderstorm warning was announced for Table Rock Lake and did not redirect the boat to land after the water became dangerously rough.

The boat was carrying 31 passengers when it set out on Table Rock Lake, outside Branson, Missouri, on July 19. Hurricane-strength winds battered and sank the craft, causing one of the deadliest U.S. tourist tragedies in recent years.

McKee earlier this month was also charged by a federal grand jury with 17 counts of misconduct, negligence and inattention, one count for each of the passengers who died when the vessel sank on July 19.

Duck boats, modeled on the amphibious landing crafts used in the D-Day invasion of Normandy in 1944, have been involved in several accidents causing at least 39 deaths since 1999, according to the lawsuit.

Reporting by Gabriella Borter; Editing by Leslie Adler

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