GTTC Obtains Defense Jury Verdict in $80M Recreational Use Claim Against Grant PUD
GTTC partners Mark Wilner and Jeff Thomas, and associate John Cadogan, 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.