iStock/MotortionBy: BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News (NEW YORK) — A federal magistrate judge has recommended that criminal charges be dismissed in a 2018 duck boat sinking during a storm on a Missouri lake that killed 17 people, including nine from the same family.U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush made the recommendation on Friday, writing that a 47-count indictment against the duck boat’s captain, operations supervisor and on-duty manager should be dropped because the tragedy occurred on a lake that is not considered a “navigable waterway” under federal admiralty law governing waterways and highways customarily used for commerce.After hearing arguments from both sides of the case, Rush concluded that the federal court has no jurisdiction over the case and that it should be handled in state court.A final decision on the case has not been made and a hearing on Rush’s recommendation has yet to be scheduled.The maritime calamity, one of the worst in American history, happened on July 19, 2018, on Table Rock Lake near Branson when the Ride the Ducks amphibious vessel owned and operated by Ripley Entertainment sank during a ferocious storm. Among those killed were nine members of the Coleman family of Indianapolis, including four children, the youngest a 1-year-old girl.Other victims were from Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas.A total of 29 passengers and two crew members were on board the Stretch Duck 7 when it experienced turbulent waters during a thunderstorm that swept into the area, officials said. In what was scheduled to be a 70-minute tour of Table Rock Lake, the duck boat was buffeted by gusts of up to 73 miles per hour and capsized by waves that crested at 6 feet, officials said.While the pilot of the boat, Bob Williams, 73, were among those who died, the captain, Kenneth Scott McKee, survived.McKee was indicted by a federal grand jury in November 2018. A superseding indictment unsealed in June 2019 also charged Curtis Lanham, the general manager of the boat’s operator, Ride the Ducks Branson, and Charles Baltzell, the manager on duty the day of the deadly trip.All three men were indicted on numerous charges of neglect under the seaman’s manslaughter statute. Each pleaded not guilty to the charges.The earlier indictment against McKee, who had been a duck boat captain for 18 years, alleged that he failed to properly assess incoming weather before launching the boat and did not order passengers to put on life vests as the weather conditions worsened.The National Transportation Safety Board released the findings of its investigation on April 28, 2020, concluding the vessel sank when it was flooded through an air intake hatch on the bow that was not weather tight.The NTSB investigation also found that the tragedy could have been avoided had the U.S. Coast Guard followed recommendations to improve the safety of such tourist attractions that were made following a similar duck boat sinking in Arkansas in 1999 that killed 13 people. The Coast Guard’s failure to require sufficient buoyancy in amphibious vehicles and its failure to address emergency exits on such vehicles with fixed canopies contributed to the sinking and loss of life, according to the NTSB report.In an emotional press conference just days after the deadly voyage, Tia Coleman, who survived the sinking but lost her husband and three children in the tragic lake excursion, said when she and her family boarded the boat, the captain pointed out life jackets but said they wouldn’t be needed.“The captain did say something about life jackets,” Coleman recalled. “He said, ‘Above you are your life jackets. There are three sizes. He said, ‘I’m gonna show you where they are, but you won’t need them. So, no need to worry.’ So we didn’t grab them.”Ripley Entertainment has settled numerous lawsuits stemming from the tragedy, including a $100 million federal lawsuit filed in Kansas City, Missouri, by lawyers representing the Coleman family.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
Clipper Equity’s David Bistricer (inset) and the US Supreme Court (Credit: RealInsight and Getty Images)Clipper Equity wasn’t one of the lucky 150.The U.S. Supreme Court, which hears roughly 150 out of the 7,000 cases it is asked to review a year, has declined to hear Clipper Equity’s challenge to New York’s rent regulation rules.The landlord filed a petition in October, asking the court to weigh in on whether a New York Court of Appeals decision represented “an uncompensated taking of [Clipper’s] property.” The court had ruled in favor of tenants, finding that apartments at two Clipper buildings should’ve remained rent regulated while the landlord was receiving a 421-g tax break.“We’re not surprised, but we’re pleased,” attorney Robert Smith, who represented the tenants in the case, said of the court’s decision. Representatives for Clipper didn’t return calls seeking comment.Back in June 2016, tenants at 50 Murray Street and 53 Park Place, along with residents of an Equity Residential property, filed a lawsuit against the the real estate investment trust, alleging that it illegally raised rents and deregulated units while receiving 421-g benefits. At the time, the REIT argued that it had the right to take units out of regulation once rents reached a certain threshold (a practice known as luxury decontrol). Clipper won an appeal against tenants in January 2018, but that decision was reversed in June 2019 by the state’s Court of Appeals, which found that the apartments should have remained rent-stabilized.Clipper then filed a petition with the Supreme Court, arguing that the ruling violates the Fifth Amendment’s takings clause and the Fourteenth Amendment’s due-process clause.The REIT, headed by David Bistricer, is also part of a coalition of landlords bankrolling a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new rent stabilization law passed in June, which eliminated luxury decontrol among other changes. Since the measure’s enactment, there have been at least two other federal complaints filed challenging the law. This content is for subscribers only.Subscribe Now
PARIS, (Reuters) – Serena Williams breezed into the third round of the French Open yesterday with a routine 6-3 6-2 win against Japanese Kurumi Nara, wasting little energy in her quest for a record-equalling Grand Slam singles title. The 10th seed, chasing a first major since the 2017 Australian Open, survived a first-set fright in her opening match, but there was no hiccup this time.She will take on fellow American Sofia Kenin in the next round, with world number one Naomi Osaka a potential opponent in the quarter-finals.The 37-year-old was given a decent workout by world number 238 Nara, who was playing her only second match in the main draw of a tour-level tournament this year. “I think she was playing tennis the whole time, really good tennis the whole time,” Williams told reporters.“She was just playing really tactical tennis, and I just had to play a little bit better.”Nara stood her ground in the first seven games but derailed in the eighth as Williams broke for 5-3 with a booming forehand winner down the line. The Japanese cracked earlier in the second set, dropping serve in the third game, and never recovered as Williams snatched her 801st victory on the tour.Although an ankle injury disrupted her early season, Williams believes she still has what it takes to match Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.“I generally come to a Grand Slam to win it,” she said. “I have had a tough year since I twisted my ankle in Australia. It’s just been really tough after that.“So everything definitely feels a little bit harder than normal, but at the same time, I know that it’s going to get better.”
Ghana striker, Asamoah Gyan is being tipped by Liverpool legend John Barnes to enjoy a successful second season in England.Barnes is backing Gyan to improve on his first season’s performance because of his attitude.Barnes, who is on a trip to Accra in an interview, to be aired on Thursday on Oti Adjei Report on TV3, explains that even though the Ghanaian is yet to reach his full potential, Gyan epitomises the good attitude to build on his debut performance.“He has been fantastic and he has had a good career, he is a very good player and adjusted straight away. He scored goals and showed his quality and that has a lot to do with his attitude.“A lot of the Ghanaian players have good attitude, good determination, good spirit. There are certain African countries with better individual players, but for me the Ghanaian players play with the right spirit, the right attitude, which are all part of the qualities you need to be a good footballer, because he works very hard.“You may say there are better players technically but in terms of what he gives to the team he has been sensational,” Barnes says. After managing double figures in his first season in England, following his £13-million move from Stade Rennes in England, Barnes thinks Gyan can impress again.“It will be a bigger challenge but I think he is up to the challenge because of his commitment and desire. I know from watching him play for Ghana that he gives 100 % when he plays.“If you rest on your laurels after a first season, the second season will be a big challenge and he doesn’t seem to be the kind of player to do that. He seems to be the kind of player who still has the desire to do what he has done and do it again.”Source: Ghanafa.org