Eight Relatives – “Survivors Who are Scarred for Life” After the July 19th Missouri Duck Boat Disaster – Jointly File a Lawsuit Against Ripley Entertainment and Others

Eight more Branson, Missouri duck boat disaster victims – survivors who are related and range in age from 10 to 64 – today jointly filed a lawsuit in Federal court here to hold Ripley Entertainment, the duck boat’s owner, and five other defendants accountable for their actions that led to the July 19th catastrophe that killed 17 of the 31 that boarded the death trap vessel with a severe storm approaching.

Download Filed Branson Survivors Lawsuit 6 Sept

The civil action (Ronita McKinley et al. v. Ripley Entertainment, Inc. D/B/A Ride the Ducks International, et al., In The United States District Court, Western District of Missouri, 6:18-cv-03288) was filed by attorneys from the law firms of Saltz, Mongeluzzi & Bendesky, P.C., and Aleshire, Robb & Rapp, P.C., on behalf of duck boat survivors-plaintiffs: Ronita McKinley, 64, who were vacationing in Branson from New Mexico with her two daughters (Tomlyn McDonald, 42, from Texas, and Tiffany Collins, 39, who resides in New Mexico) and their families. The eight family members were fortunate to survive the tragedy, however will be “forever scarred by the horrific, unimaginable experience that included witnessing the harrowing deaths of their fellow passengers,” stated their attorneys.

Robert J. Mongeluzzi, of Saltz Mongeluzzi, said after the filing, “Every one of these family members continues to suffer physically and emotionally. While grateful to be alive, they are also deeply determined to do all they can through this lawsuit – and other means – to shut down the death trap duck boats so that no other family is forced to endure an such a tragedy. The family also expresses their deepest sympathies to those who were not as lucky and lost loved ones that day.”

Jeffrey P. Goodman, of SMB, noted the section of the complaint that demands (in addition to a required request for monetary damages), that the defendants “immediately cease the manufacturing and operation of all Duck Boats in the United States and abroad…and support the efforts to ensure that all others in the Duck Boat industry cease operations until Duck Boats are made unsinkable and their canopies are removed”. He added, “What happened on Table Rock Lake was no fluke accident, but the result of decades of reckless and atrocious behavior by defendants more interested in making a buck than protecting their passengers.

Andrew R. Duffy, of SMB, stated, “As detailed in the complaint, Branson duck boat personnel altered its regular schedule – which called for taking the land tour first – because they thought they could beat the storm. Despite the multiple threatening forecasts, starting early in that morning, the passengers were at no time provided life jackets. The bright orange flotation devices are clearly visible, still in storage, after the boat was salvaged. And the complaint documents – yet again – how the duck boat’s fixed canopy fatally trapped passengers.”

The defendants named in the complaint are:

  • Ripley Entertainment, Inc. – Orlando, FL
  • Ride the Ducks International LLC – Jefferson City, MO
  • Ride the Ducks of Branson, LLC – Branson, MO
  • Branson Duck Vehicles, LLC – Branson, MO
  • Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation – Branson, MO
  • Amphibious Vehicle Manufacturing, LLC. – Branson, MO

The husbands of Ronita McKinley and Tomlyn McDonald are named as plaintiffs but were not on the boat. Names of the three minors-plaintiffs are not disclosed by law.

The family requests privacy as they deal with the after effects of this tragedy and that any media inquiry be directed to its counsel.

The SMB legal team includes Gregory Aleshire, Esq., of Missouri-based Aleshire, Robb & Rapp.


Steph Rosenfeld / steph@idadvisors.com / 215.514.4101

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