Lawyers for the owners of the Branson duck boat that sank in July say Attorney General Josh Hawley’s consumer-fraud lawsuit against the company is “littered with factual inaccuracies and innuendo.” The Springfield News-Leader reports three attorneys based in Springfield and Kansas City, who represent Ripley and the Branson Duck Vehicles (BDV), strongly deny those claims and say safety was a major priority. The companies argue that the Duck Boat captain gave a safety briefing prior to the voyage that day and that the Duck Boat began making for shore within 17 seconds after wind gusts from an impending storm whipped up the white caps.
The Ripley and Branson Duck Vehicles attorneys want the lawsuit dismissed. They argue Hawley’s claims are too inconsistent.
Hawley’s staff responded Monday evening, saying “We stand by every allegation and the petition. This is a frivolous attempt to evade responsibility for the deaths of 17 people.”
Hawley filed a lawsuit in late August with the intent of shutting down the Branson duck boat operation after 17 people died during a Table Rock Lake capsizing on July 19.
The suit against the Duck Boat owner and manufacturer alleges that the companies violated state law meant to protect consumers from fraudulent business practices.
Hawley’s office alleged that the companies hid information about safety hazards from consumers “and made false promises, fraudulent statements, and misrepresentations to consumers that safety was their top priority when in actuality it was their own profits.”
The duck boat’s owners have generally put forward a mournful and apologetic public face in the wake of the tragedy. But in Monday’s rebuttal to Hawley’s effort to shut them down, attorneys for the company argue that the attorney general is putting on a show and does not have his facts straight.
(Missourinet media partner KOLR contributed this report)