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Oso Landslide Lawsuit Settled Ahead of Trial

Image: Oso Landslide Lawsuit Settled Ahead of Trial

In this March 25, 2014, file photo, a flag stands in the ruins of a home left at the end of a deadly mudslide from the now-barren hillside visible about a mile behind in Oso, Washington. (Elaine Thompson/AP Photo, File)

By    |   Tuesday, 11 Oct 2016 12:31 PM

An Oso landslide lawsuit has been settled in a $50 million agreement between plaintiffs and the state of Washington over the deadly landslide, in which 43 people died.

The settlement agreement, which was reached on the eve of the trial, is still awaiting approval by a Judge Roger Rogoff, according to The Seattle Times.

The $50 million settlement includes nearly an additional $395,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs for sanction motions, The Seattle Times noted. However, that price tag does not account for any penalties that a King Superior Court judge might issue against the state related to the reported destruction of emails by expert witnesses.

In a separate settlement, timber company, Grandy Lake Forest Associates LLC, agreed to pay $10 million, The Wall Street Journal reported. The timber company, which denies any wrongdoing, had been accused of cutting down more trees than it was permitted in 2004.

According to The Seattle Times, the lawsuit was filed by survivors and family members of the more than 40 people who died the landslide — a mudslide that ran across the North Fork of the Stillaguamish and into the Steelhead Haven community.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys claimed that the 2014 incident was a result of a crib wall fence, built on state property, that contained loose soils from previous landslides, The Seattle Times noted. The state’s attorneys have denied allegations that actions on state lands increased the risk or affected the severity of the landslide.

“I think this lawsuit is great (due) to the fact they knew it was not safe to build,” Billie Spillers, the niece of former Canonsburg resident Billy L. Spillers, who died along with three of his children in the landslide, said, according to TuniseSoir News.

“My uncle wouldn’t have moved his family there (if) there was a possible chance of this happening. Nor would anyone else for that fact. It was never safe.”

Billy Spillers, who was 30 years old at the time, was home with his four children when the landslide hit their neighborhood, TuniseSoir News noted.

“My uncle was a very kind, caring, loving husband, father and friend to all,” Billie wrote. “He was a man of his word and was always there to help anyone he could.”

If approved, the state will pay the first $10 million of the settlement, while insurers will pay the rest, The Seattle Times noted.

The settlement comes after the state failed to reveal that the expert witnesses who were hired to help make the state’s case, wrongfully deleted email communications between one another, The Seattle Times noted.

Since the massive 2014 landslide, the state has adopted new rules on logging in landslide-prone areas.

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An Oso landslide lawsuit has been settled in a $50 million agreement between plaintiffs and the state of Washington over the deadly landslide, in which 43 people died.
oso, landslide, lawsuit, settled
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2016-31-11
Tuesday, 11 Oct 2016 12:31 PM
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