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Firms cite law in Missouri duck boat accident, seek mediation

Two companies facing multiple federal lawsuits over a summer tourist boat accident in Missouri that killed 17 people are invoking an 1851 law that allows vessel owners to try to avoid or limit legal damages.

But the companies also say they’re seeking settlement negotiations with victims’ family members.

Attorneys for Florida-based Ripley Entertainment Inc. and Missouri-based Branson Duck Vehicles cited the old federal law Monday in a court filing.

If a judge concludes that the law applies, claims for damages over the July 19 accident on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri, could be consolidated into a single case.

But the filing came less than a week after the companies asked a judge for a 90-day extension of court filing deadlines so they could pursue a potential settlement.

By JOHN HANNA, Associated Press