As the second trial stemming from the deadly Ride the Ducks crash began, a settlement was reached that impacts victims from the first trial.
In court on Wednesday afternoon, attorneys announced Ride the Ducks International and Ride the Ducks Seattle would withdraw their appeal in the first trial. In February a jury verdict awarded $123 million dollars to more than 40 plaintiffs.
Investigators say the axle on the Ride the Ducks vehicle broke on September 24, 2015. It careened out of control and slammed into a charter bus carrying student from North Seattle College. Five students were killed, dozens more were injured.
On Wednesday, the trial for plaintiff Carolin Scholz, 23, began in King County Superior Court.
Scholz was working as an au pair in Seattle in 2015 when she and friend took the Ride the Ducks tour. She sat in the front seat on the amphibious vehicle and when it crashed she smashed her face into the metal dash board, according to her attorney. She's had several surgeries to reconstruct her face and will need more surgeries, according to her attorney.
"She's had several multiple- hour surgeries to try to reconstruct her face, and they've done a really good job, but it's easier to fix broken bones than it is a broken spirit and that's what she's trying to work on right now," said David Beninger, the attorney for Scholz.
The Scholz case settled for $7 million dollars in the middle of opening statements. Together Ride the Ducks International and Ride the Ducks Seattle will pay $6.5 million, the City of Seattle will pay $250-thousand and so will the State of Washington. The city and state were not found at fault in the first Ride the Ducks trial.
"The settlement avoids the uncertainty and expense of trial. We hope Ms. Scholz continues to heal and move forward with her life following the accident," wrote Dan Nolte, with the Seattle City Attorney's Office.
"This helped resolve a number of cases. That's what was nice, to be in this situation and present our case and have everyone on both sides be able to pull together to try to get it all resolved," said Beninger. “The appeal portions will get dismissed and the cases will also get settled and released behind us so there’s multiple cases that are involved.”
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