A lawsuit filed in the federal court on July 29th, 2018 alleges that Ripley Entertainment “recklessly risked the lives of its passengers for purely financial reasons” which cost the lives of 17 people and injuring 14 others. The lawsuit continues on to say that the company knew that the duck boats were unsafe and knew the weather was not fit for the boat to go out onto the water.
The lawsuit sheds a light on a history of fatalities in which the Duck Boats were responsible:
The first major tragedy occurring on May 1, 1999 on the Miss Majestic Duck Boat which sank on Lake Hamilton Arkansas, drowning 13 Duck Boat passengers. This then lead to the National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) to issue the following safety recommendations to operators of amphibious passenger vehicles in the United States:
In response to this statement, Robert F. McDowell, then president of Ride the Ducks Brunson, said that the costs to make the duck boats safer wouldn’t be reasonable:
Further risks occurred in our own city on July 7, 2010 where DUKW Boat 34 sank in Philadelphia and resulted in the deaths of two Hungarian tourists, Dora Schwendtner, and Szabolcs Prem.
The events of July 19th further highlighted the issues with the safety of the duck boats. The company also ignored the fact there was a severe thunderstorm watch and possible 60mph winds. The five defendants are being sued for negligence, product liability, punitive damages, and wrongful death.