GTTC Obtains Defense Jury Verdict in $80M Recreational Use Claim Against Grant PUD
November 09, 2021
GTTC partners Mark Wilner and Jeff Thomas, and associate John Cadagan, spent the month of October 2021 in trial. The plaintiff dove off a boat at the Quilomene Dune & Bay (the “Sandbar”) on the Columbia River in Kittitas County and struck his head on the river bottom, rendering him a quadriplegic. He then sued GTTC client Grant County Public Utility District. He alleged the Central Washington utility’s Wanapum Dam operations and its control over the mid-Columbia River waterway required Grant PUD to post a conspicuous sign warning of fluctuating water levels at the Sandbar pursuant to Washington’s Recreational Use Statute.
The plaintiff asked the jury to award $79,193,239 after a three-and-a-half week trial. Approximately three hours later, the jury returned a defense verdict.
The case was filed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The jury trial was held via Zoom – from jury selection through verdict – with opening statements, witness testimony, and closing arguments broadcasted on a live YouTube feed.