Judge dismisses lawsuits over Albert Pike campground flood deaths | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Judge dismisses lawsuits over Albert Pike campground flood deaths

Posted By on Wed, Mar 29, 2017 at 11:59 AM

click to enlarge FLOOD AFTERMATH: A wrecked RV.
  • FLOOD AFTERMATH: A wrecked RV.
Federal Judge Susan Hickey Tuesday dismissed 11 lawsuits filed against the federal government over the June 2010 deaths of 20 people in flooding of the Little Missouri River at the Albert Pike campground in the Ouachita National Forest.

The judge said the government was immune from lawsuit on account of the Arkansas Recreational Use statute. The plaintiffs argued that exceptions in the statute allowed lawsuits in this case. The judge wrote, however:

Although the Court is sympathetic to Plaintiffs because of the unfortunate and untimely deaths of twenty campers, the Court is required to determine immunity based upon the law as set forth above and as applied to the facts of this case. The Court must therefore find, based upon the relevant facts and law, that Plaintiffs have failed to show the following: (1) that the government maliciously failed to guard or warn against an ultra-hazardous condition, structure, personal property, use, or activity actually known to the government to be dangerous; or (2) that the government charged persons to enter or go on land in the ARPA for recreational use. Consequently, the government can avail itself of the immunity provided by the ARUS. 

The plaintiffs can appeal to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

A torrential rain caused an unprecedented flood, with a 19-foot rise of the river in just a few hours. Campgrounds had been built in flood-prone areas, the Forest Service wrote in a report on the event. It detailed shortcomings in construction and preparations for flood emergencies.

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