Stillaguamish Tribe disputes liability claim for deadly mudslide in 2014


An aerial view of some of the damage caused by the Oso mudslide in Washington state in March 2014. Photo by U.S. Navy

The Stillaguamish Tribe is disputing claims that it can be held liable for the deadly Oso mudslide in Washington state.

A lawsuit filed in federal court says state officials have tried to link the tribe to the March 2014 disaster that claimed 43 lives, injured dozens of others and caused extensive damage. At issue is work that the tribe performed along the Stillaguamish River.

According to the lawsuit, the state argues that the tribe waived its sovereign immunity when it accepted $479,000 for a salmon recovery project. But the tribe says it never authorized anyone to sign a contract that contained a waiver of sovereign immunity

“The tribe’s official records demonstrate that the tribe’s board of directors passed no resolution delegating authority to anyone to sign the agreement on the tribe’s behalf,” the June 27 complaint reads. “Further, there is no evidence the board passed a resolution approving the tribe's entry into the agreement. There is also no evidence the board passed a resolution approving or agreeing to the agreement's purported limited waiver of the tribe's inherent sovereign immunity."

The state has been sued by victims, surviving family members and others in connection with the mudslide. According to the lawsuit, the state could be forced to pay $12 million in damages.

The state has not yet responded to the tribe's complaint.

Get the Story:
Stillaguamish Tribe sues state, disputes Oso mudslide liability (The Everett Herald 7/7)
Washington Officials, Tribe Debate Oso Landslide Liability (AP 7/6)

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