More mudslide damage claims filed against county, state

EVERETT — Damage claims were filed Thursday on behalf of four more families who have suffered because of the deadly March 22 Oso mudslide.

The claims were brought against Snohomish County and the state of Washington by Seattle attorney Corrie Yackulic. They are likely precursors to litigation seeking answers about what happened, she said. Each claim says the amount of damages will be determined by a jury.

Two of the new claims were filed by survivors of people killed when the slide crashed down on the Steelhead Haven neighborhood.

Jonielle Spillers was not at home that morning. She lost her husband, Billy L. Spillers, 30, a chief petty officer at Naval Station Everett, and three of her four children. Jacob Spillers, 4, survived and was rescued from the mud.

Mindi Peake is the daughter of Mark Gustafson, 54. The carpenter and avid fly fisherman was the father of four grown children. He was missing for weeks.

Ron and Cheryl Burrows were away from their home in the 28600 block of Highway 530. Their house was destroyed and all their possessions buried.

Bruce and Deborah Cheek saw the value decline for property they own in the 26700 block of 305th Street NE.

Each of the claims says state and county officials have knowledge of what contributed to the disaster. The claims against the state allege that the Department of Natural Resources approved clearcutting within the groundwater recharge zone of the hill that fell.

“The state ignored the best available science delineating the recharge zone in favor of much older data,” the claims say.

Yackulic also has filed a claim on behalf of Deborah Durnell, 50, whose husband, Thomas Durnell, 65, a retired carpenter, was killed in the slide.

Four other claims were filed earlier on behalf of other families who lost people or property.

A total of 41 people have been confirmed killed in the slide; two remain missing.

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