Seeking answers, Oso woman files damages claims in 530 mudslide

Seeking answers, Oso woman files damages claims in 530 mudslide »Play Video
Search and Rescue personnel continue the search for bodies buried in mud at the landslide in Oso, Wash., Wednesday, April 9, 2014. (AP Photo/The Oregonian, Thomas Boyd)

OSO, Wash. - An Oso woman, whose husband died in the 530 mudslide, has filed claims against Snohomish County and the state to seek answers and 3.5 million dollars in damages.

The debris from the landslide buried the Steelhead Drive home where Deborah Durnell lived with her husband, Tom, who died when the slope collapsed.

"The house is destroyed, their possessions are gone," said attorney Corrie Yackulic who is representing Durnell. "It's their home and our home is sort of our sanctuary."

Speaking on behalf of her client, Yackulic said Durnell filed damage claims against the county and state because she's trying to get answers. She wants to know how the landslide happened, who knew what and when, and what was conveyed or withheld from homeowners.
 
"I think that to really have a seat at the table she believes she needs to go - and we believe- she needs to go through this process. I think the tools that are available through the court system are the best way to get the full story," said Yackulic.

Durnell is seeking 3.5 million dollars in damages. Her claims are just the first step in what could be a very lengthy court process. The government has 60 days to respond to the claim. After that point, Durnell has the option to file a lawsuit.

In her standard tort claim, Durnell names the Department of Natural Resources as the agency responsible for the damage and includes a long list of local and state officials with knowledge of the liability issues.

The Durnells purchased the Steelhead Drive home three years ago and Yackulic said the couple was not aware it was a high-risk, unstable slope area.

"Had they known they wouldn't have purchased there," said Yackulic. "It's a beautiful area and they had hoped to live out the rest of their lives there. They didn't know it was a dangerous place to live."