Washington settles mudslide lawsuit for $50 million

OSO, Wash., Oct. 10 (UPI) — Lawyers for families of people who died during a mudslide in Washington more than two years ago announced a settlement with the state for $50 million, though they say that will not put an end to the case.

The state of Washington agreed to a $50 million settlement with the families of those who died in a 2014 mudslide in Oso, leaving a timber company as the lone defendant in the civil suit that will start Monday morning.

The settlement comes two-and-a-half years after a mudslide near the North Fork Stillaguamish River in Washington killed 43 people, destroyed 49 buildings and closed a state highway for six months of repairs.

The families filed suit based on documents showing the cause of the disaster was covered-up, including information that may have helped people avoid dying in the mudslide because they would have been aware of the potential disaster there.

“The community was never given the chance to make a meaningful decision about landslide risks because the state and other defendants — who possessed critical information about the unstable and potentially devastating nature of those risks — refused to give them that information,” lawyers for the families wrote in a statement announcing the settlement.

The lawsuit will continue as scheduled Monday morning because a timber company, Grandy Lake Forest Associates, which is accused of contributing to danger in the area was not included in the settlement. The judge in the case also will determine punitive sanctions against lawyers for the state accused of deleting emails from experts expected to testify in the trial.

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