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for people who care about the West

Latest: Oso lawsuit reaches $60 million settlement

The 2014 disaster killed 43 people in one of Washington’s most active slide zones.


On March 22, 2014, a major mudslide killed 43 people in Oso, Washington. Clear-cut logging above the slide exacerbated it; the hill — which is in one of the state’s most active slide zones — had slumped in 1995 and 2006. Many of the West’s riskiest locations are also its most desirable, encouraging would-be residents to gamble with geology (“Why we risk life and property,” HCN, 4/28/14).

On Oct. 10, the day before a months-long trial was to begin, Washington state and a local timber company settled with survivors and victims’ families. Grandy Lake Forest Associates LLC agreed to pay $10 million, and the state —which plaintiffs accused of building a wall that made the slide worse — will pay $50 million. Last year, a University of Washington study showed that slopes in the Oso area collapse every 140 to 500 years, revealing that one of the deadliest slides in history was no anomaly.