Survivors of deadly Pacific Northwest mudslide settle with state, landowner

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 10, 2016 8:41 PM

(Reuters) - Survivors and family members of those who perished in a deadly 2014 mudslide in Washington State have settled their lawsuits against the state and the owner of a hillside that collapsed near the town of Oso, about 60 miles (97 km) north of Seattle, officials said.

Forty-three people were killed when a rain-soaked hillside on the north fork of the Stillaguamish River collapsed, sending a deluge of mud and debris down on the rural community in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.

The settlement, announced as opening arguments were set to begin in a trial over family members' claims in King County Superior Court on Monday, was praised by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson as "a fair resolution for all parties."

All told, the state and Grandy Lake Forest Associates, which owned the hillside that collapsed, agreed to pay $60 million to the families, including about $400,000 in attorneys' fees, the Seattle Times reported. A state judge also ordered the state to pay nearly $800,000 in damages, the newspaper said.

Attorneys for the families had argued that Washington state and Grandy Lake Forest Associates were aware that residents were at risk for a deadly slide but made no attempts to divert the river or relocate homes.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento; Editing by Sandra Maler)