Saturday was the one year anniversary of Ride the Ducks Crash on the Aurora Bridge. As you may know our firm represents 20 of the victims.
Last Friday, the owner of Ride the Ducks Seattle (RTDS) went on a media campaign proclaiming at every opportunity that he wants a “global mediation” where everyone can be treated fairly and the cases can be resolved. This is an effective way for RTDS to convey in a single message to the media and the public that it cares about the victims and is taking responsibility.
But how genuine is it?
Ride the Ducks did propose global mediation involving five defendants and 60 or more plaintiffs, plus dozens more attorneys. They did so by group email. Not a proposed stipulation, not with prior agreement by other defendants, not an actual plan, just a group email. Like how you might throw out an idea for a theme party.
For point of reference, things Ride the Ducks felt warranted actual letterhead or pleading paper have included (1) leveling personal attacks at/scolding Karen for posting a picture of the “Duck Nest” on social media, which RTDS has now broadcast on local news networks, (2) demanding everything we have compiled during our investigation in preparation for the litigation, and (3) scheduling meetings about the case schedule.
For further point of reference, the parties spent hours filing cross motions about when the trial date should be, with the defendants wanting to push it out to June 2019. But this proposed early global mediation, where everyone will be treated so fairly, warrants a group email.
How else is Ride the Ducks taking responsibility and furthering its desire to globally mediate? The company:
- Spent the week of the anniversary hounding us over our objection to producing the fruits of our investigation, and then, ignoring that we twice asked why the issue needed to be debated that week, unilaterally scheduled a discovery conference on Friday right before the memorial service for the Ride the Ducks victims at North Seattle College. We were scheduled to attend to be supportive of our clients, because that’s what we do. Context reminder: trial is two years from now.
- Hasn’t bothered to collect medical records to see all of the harm the crash caused (an obvious prerequisite for mediation), and yet…
- Thought it was important to demand the STD history of the victims in discovery.
What else is Ride the Ducks doing to take responsibility? Blaming lawyers, naturally.
Brian Tracey (owner) stated to Q13: “Most aggressive attorneys will get to trial first and get the lion’s share of the money. I don’t want it to happen, I want everybody to be treated fairly.”
Here’s what is actually going on. Many of the cases filed early after the crash had trial dates as early as November 2016 (two months from now). All of the cases have since been set on the same modified case schedule with a trial date in September 2018. Judges handling the cases have requested that all parties file lawsuits in time for their cases to be tried beginning September 2018. You can decide for yourself if Mr. Tracey’s statement is (a) accurate or (b) a clever way to abscond with the moral high ground and blame lawyers for the lack of a resolution.
This is not the first time Mr. Tracey has gone out of his way to blame lawyers for his company’s bad PR. He blamed Karen and other plaintiffs’ lawyers for a “campaign to discredit RTDS’ safety worthiness.” This is a company which, in addition to the horrific crash that killed five people, admitted to 463 safety violations. A company with only half of its fleet allowed to conduct tours. A company which, the lawsuits allege, declined to implement critical, manufacturer-recommended safety fixes “to avoid axle fractures” (what the preliminary NTSB report concluded had happened) that were supposed to be completed “prior to operating 2014.” Somehow trial lawyers and their photographs of Duck vehicles are to blame for bad PR.
You can always keep blaming us lawyers if you want to duck responsibility. We can take it. But don’t try to fix your PR problem by giving victims an illusory hope of closure for an extremely traumatic and life-changing event. On the anniversary no less. They’re suffering enough.
Here’s an article about the victims, which is what the anniversary should be about.