Are Duck Boats Deathtraps?

National News
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Trial attorney Robert J. Mongeluzzi’s Philadelphialaw firm, which demonstrated at trial how tourist duck boats are engineered ‘deathtraps’ operating on land and in the water, is again calling for a national ban of the vehicles following yesterday’s duck boat disaster in Branson, Missouri.

Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett & Bendesky, P.C., which has represented tourist-victims of duck boat fatalities on the Delaware River, and on a city street in Philadelphia, extends its deepest sympathies to the victims of the Missouri tragedy and is again urging Federal and state transportation officials to immediately halt all duck boat operations.

“Incredibly there have now been more than 40 deaths since 1999 associated with these inherently unsafe, novelty tourist rides,” said Mr. Mongeluzzi. “After this tragedy, we again ask, What does it take for tour operators to realize that they cannot value profit more than human life and public safety? Why would those boats, which ride very low in the water on a calm day, even be operating given the severe weather conditions and posted small craft advisories? It was unconscionable.”

Andrew R. Duffy, Mr. Mongeluzzi’s partner and co-counsel along with Jeffrey P. Goodman in the firm’s prior wrongful death duck boat litigation, added, “Tragically, it appears that numerous recommended life-saving safety improvements were never made to the duck boats – before and after the fatal 2010 Philadelphia disaster in which two Hungarian student-passengers were killed. Our engineering experts showed how the vehicles were actually engineered to fail in a water emergency, their canopies actually trapping passengers in their life jackets rather than allowing their escape. This canopy-confinement danger was known as early as 1999 and the NTSB’s direction to remove the canopies was, tragically, ignored.”

Mr. Goodman added, “It is tragically ironic that the canopy design, not part of the original military specification,  was intended only to protect tourists from inconvenience, such as sunburn or showers, while life and death safety considerations were disregarded.” The 2010 Philadelphia case settled collectively for $17 million just before going to a Federal court jury.

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