Judge says 1851 law, which would cap damages at $0, does not apply in duck boat lawsuits

Local News

GREENE COUNTY, Mo. (News-Leader) — After an amphibious duck boat sank in a thunderstorm on the lake last July, killing 17 of the 31 people on-board, many survivors and families of the deceased filed lawsuits against the duck boat operators and others.

Among those sued was Ride the Ducks International, which previously owned the vessel (dubbed Stretch Duck 07), before it was bought by Ripley Entertainment months before the sinking.

After they were hit with many lawsuits, both Ripley Entertainment and Ride the Ducks International asked a federal judge to find the 1851 Shipowners Limitation of Liability Act applied and damages should be capped at no more than the value of the sunken vessel, which is zero dollars.

U.S. District Judge Doug Harpool mulled the issue for more than a year, before deciding Friday that the old maritime law does not apply and Table Rock Lake is not a “navigable waterway” under federal law.

A federal judge dealt a blow Friday to Ride the Ducks International, ruling that an 1851 law does not protect the company from owing money to the victims of last summer’s duck boat sinking on Table Rock Lake.

To read the rest of the story by the Springfield News-Leader, click here.

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