Additional damage claims filed in Oso mudslide

EVERETT — A total of five damage claims now have been filed against Snohomish County and the state of Washington in connection with the deadly March 22 mudslide in Oso.

The newest claims were filed Monday by survivors of Shane and Katie Ruthvens’ family, and suvivors of Lewis and JuDee Vandenburg. Shane, 43, Katie, 34, and their sons, Hunter, 6, and Wyatt, 4, were killed when the hill fell on their home on E. Steelhead Drive. The Vandenburgs, who lived next door in an RV, also were killed. JuDee Vandenburg, 64, and Lewis Vandenburg, 71, were the Ruthven children’s grandparents.

Identical claims were filed with the state and county.

The claims, filed by Seattle attorney Guy Michelson, say “the actions, and lack of actions” by the county and state Department of Natural Resources caused the landslide.

The claims do not seek specific monetary damages, but suggest a jury is likely to award “several million dollars” in any lawsuit.

Meanwhile, Seattle attorney Karen Willie on April 24 filed a $3.5 million claim on behalf of survivors of Lon Slauson, 60, who died when his home along Steelhead Drive was destroyed. She also brought a claim on behalf of Henrietta Ottersen, 78, who lives in Seattle. The slide destroyed a home and property Ottersen owns in the 29400 block of Highway 530. The claim does not specify the amount of damages sought.

The first slide claim was filed April 18 by Deborah Durnell, 50. Her attorney, Corrie Yackulic of Seattle, said she expects a legal battle to learn exactly why the hill fell and what government officials knew about the risk to people living below. Thomas Durnell, 65, a retired carpenter, was killed when the slide crashed down on the home he shared with his wfie along Steelhead Drive.

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