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Twenty Feet of Muck Killed 43

A landslide, in 2014, killed 43 people in rural Oso, northeast of Seattle. A $60 million settlement has been reached in the case.

The largest wrongful death lawsuit in history was just about to begin when the logging company agreed to settle for $10 million. The agreement to settle for $10 million came on the heels of an agreement with the state for $50 million.

On March 22, 2014, a massive mudslide wiped out a neighborhood in Oso. It was an enclave of about 35 single-family homes, some built in the 1960s. Survivors recalled hearing what sounded like a plane crashing outside their homes, but on checking what the noise was, discovered a towering wall of sludge bearing down on them.

Although the whole event lasted about two minutes, the landslide slammed into the neighborhood, ripping off roofs, crushing trees and homes, and burying people alive. Reports dating back to the 1950s warned that the hillside could collapse because the local river had been eroding the base of the hill. Despite this, homes continued being build in the area.

According to area residents, the logging operation above their location was allegedly responsible for the slide because the retaining wall built along the bank of the river undercut the hill exponentially increasing the danger a mudslide. Residents allege they were never warned about a potential mudslide despite the fact that a similar landslide occurred in 2006.

The survivors of the slide were left to mourn the loss of family and friends and to gather together to launch a wrongful death lawsuit.

Although that suit never made it to court, the victims were able to receive compensation. The court also assessed $789,000 in punitive damages against the state because their expert witnesses were found to be deleting emails vital to the litigation.

The state has now passed new rules relating to logging in landslide-prone areas.

The families left behind in this tragedy would have had enormous expenses, including rebuilding their homes, and funeral and burial costs. Many of the victims may have found assistance by applying for a lawsuit loan from a litigation company to help them meet their cash shortages while waiting for case resolution.

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