Lawyer files suit to ban duck boat rides: ‘Duck boats are sinking coffins’

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The family who lost nine relatives in this month’s duck boat incident wants them forever banned and they’ve filed a lawsuit to get it done. During a live news conference from Kansas City, attorney Robert Mangeluzzi said if cars had the same record as duck boats, 20 percent of the US population would be gone.

“Sixty million people would have been killed in the last 20 years if cars were as dangerous as duck boats,” he said.

Attorney Mangeluzzi said the Colemans, who lost nine family members in the July 19 accident, want the boats gone.

“Duck boats are sinking coffins. Once they take on water, they sink and they sink fast,” he said.

Mangeluzzi said the boat’s canopy traps people. You could see life jackets in the boat pulled from Table Rock Lake. Mangeluzzi said the captain told people not to wear them, but added the boats are so dangerous it doesn't matter.

“You are dead if you do, dead if you don’t. You drown if you do, you drown if you don’t,” he said. “They put their passengers in an impossible situation where no matter what they do, they’re likely to die if that duck boat sinks.”

Mangeluzzi said he has video and audio evidence that the duck boat operator knew a storm was coming and rushed out to water.

“They tried to beat the storm by going on the water first rather than refunding the 40 bucks that each of these people paid,” he said.

The attorney said duck boat businesses did nothing after NTSB investigative findings on the 1999 sinking in Hot Springs, Arkansas that killed 13. He said Ride the Ducks Branson did nothing after private inspector Steven Paul found problems with 24 boats last August.

Paul first told Fox 2/KPLR 11 the boats didn’t meet government standards.

“You’re not going to have the pump inside the hull to pump water out of the boat,” Paul said.

“They never did anything and they exposed their paying customers under the guise this is a fun, safe, tourist-friendly operation,” Mangeluzzi said.

A second lawsuit was also filed Monday on behalf of William and Janice Bright, a Higginsville, Missouri couple who were celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary. The parent company of Ride the Ducks Branson, Ripley Entertainment, issued the following response:

“We remain deeply saddened by the tragic accident that occurred in Branson and we are supportive of the affected families. The investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board is still underway and no conclusions have been reached. We cannot comment at this time.”