SALTZ MONGELUZZI BARRETT & BENDESKY, P.C.
RONAI & RONAI, LLP
$17 MILLION SETTLEMENT IN FEDERAL FATAL PHILADELPHIA DUCK BOAT ACCIDENT TRIAL
PHILADELPHIA, PA (May 9, 2012) - A $17 million settlement has been reached on the third day of a Federal civil trial stemming from the July 7, 2010 Philadelphia duck boat disaster in which two young Hungarian student-tourists drowned in the Delaware River, attorneys for Dora Schwendtner,16, and Szabolcs Prem, 20, announced today. The settlement brought to an end the courageous campaign of the parents to hold accountable those responsible for the loss of their only children, said the lawyers from the firms of Saltz Mongeluzzi Barrett & Benesky PC, and New York-based Ronai & Ronai, LLP.
The court-approved, all-encompassing settlement is on behalf of the families of Dora Schwendtner, 16, and Szabolcs Prem, 20, and numerous Ride the Ducks victims who suffered but survived the tourist boat-sludge barge collision in the shipping lanes just off Penns Landing. Ride the Ducks, its parent company, Herschend Entertainment, and K-Sea Transportation Partners, the owner-operator of the tugboat Caribbean Sea, agreed to the terms of the settlement that provides for:
The settlement announcement came on what was to have been the third day of the Federal limitation of liability trial before U.S. District Court Judge Thomas O’Neill. Before the settlement talks ensued, there was testimony to support the assertion that the accident was preventable and resulted from a series of negligent acts in which adopted safety practices were routinely ignored by critical operating personnel. Judge O’Neill, after hearing graphic eyewitness testimony Ride the Ducks survivors seated near Ms. Schwendnter and Mr. Prem, suggested that lawyers for the victims and the corporations, including Ride the Ducks and K-Sea Transportation, discuss settlement options under the supervision of his colleague, U.S. District Court Judge John R. Padova. The trial, if it had continued, would have lasted about one month and included testimony from the duck boat captain and the first mate of the tug, who is serving a federal prison sentence for his criminal conduct associated with his role in the accident.
“The families are deeply grateful to the Court for recognizing that their children were important and did not deserve to die in vain,” explained Robert Mongeluzzi, of SMBB. “While their suffering continues, they have renewed hope in the American justice system and that stricter regulations on cell phone use and tourist-boat operating procedures might avert similar catastrophes on and off the water.”
Andrew Duffy, of SMBB, added, “This case illustrated in graphic, chilling detail what happens when safety rules and regulations are not enforced. The settlement is not only what is right and just for the families and all the victims, but also it is totally consistent with the findings and recommendation following the extensive investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board. (NTSB)”
Mongeluzzi and Duffy, who tried the case before Judge O’Neill along with their colleague Jeffrey Goodman, also credited their New York-based co-counsel Peter Ronai and Holly Ostrov Ronai.
Holly Ostrov Ronai said despite the language barrier, the families intently followed the trial proceedings before settlement talks began. “They watched in horror the video of the duck boat being struck and hugged the survivors who testified of their struggles. And they swelled with emotion when they saw on video Dora risk her own life by throwing a life preserver to the deck hand who was the first to jump from the disabled boat as the barge approached.”
“The families told us from the outset that they had a duty to honor their children and to do what they could to ensure that the lives of other children were not put at risk by unsafe operators of tourist boats, barges, or tugboats,” said Peter Ronai. “They are not happy but they are relieved and look forward to returning home.”
Robert J. Mongeluzzi (SMBB)
Rjmongeluzzi@smbb.com / 215.496.8282
Holly Ostrov Ronai ( Ronai & Ronai)
firstname.lastname@example.org / 800.664.7111
Steph Rosenfeld / For Counsel
Steph@idadvisors.com / 215.514.4101