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Wrongful death lawsuit filed against duck boat operator

California residents may have read about a July 19 accident involving a World War II-era duck boat that claimed the lives of 17 people in Missouri. Relatives of two of the victims have filed a lawsuit against the tour operator involved seeking $100 million in damages and have called for the amphibious craft to be banned. The lawsuit mentions six other accidents involving duck boats, including a 1999 sinking in Arizona that claimed 13 lives, and it alleges that the National Transportation Safety Board has branded the vehicles unsafe.

According to the wrongful death lawsuit, the NTSB came to this conclusion after an investigation into the 1999 tragedy revealed that the canopies fitted to many duck boats can trap passengers in an emergency. Attorneys representing the families say that duck boat operators have failed to heed calls from the NTSB and safety advocacy groups to remove these canopies. Duck boats, which can operate on land or water, were originally designed to ferry troops and equipment between warships and landing areas during the Second World War.

A representative of the company that operated the boat declined to comment on the lawsuit or the accident while an investigation by the NTSB is underway. The representative also chose not to answer allegations made in the lawsuit that warnings about problems with the vessel's bilge pumps and engines had been ignored by the company. A records check reveals that the company operates more than 100 watercraft in the United States and carries over 1 million passengers each year.

When pursuing wrongful death litigation on behalf of family members who have lost loved ones in a transportation accident, a personal injury attorney may scrutinize NTSB records for investigations into similar incidents. Companies that provide transportation or operate tours are expected to take all reasonable steps to protect their passengers.

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