Lawsuit filed in mountain goat death in Olympic National Park

By Tom Callis
Peninsula Daily News

The family of Bob Boardman, who was killed by a mountain goat in Olympic National Park on Oct. 16, 2010, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Interior on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma.

The move follows the Interior Department’s rejection of more than $10 million in wrongful-death and personal injury claims last month.

A federal judge without a jury will ultimately decide on the merits and damages of the case, said the law firm representing the family.

The lawsuit claims the park acted negligently by not removing or killing the 370-pound mountain goat prior to the attack on Klahhane Ridge.

The attorneys representing Boardman’s wife, Susan Chadd, and his son-in-law, Jacob Haverfield, in a press release referred to previous complaints about an aggressive mountain goat inhabiting the area.

“The Park Service failed to follow its own policies to remove dangerous animals from the park,” the statement from the Messina Bulzomi Christensen law firm said.

“Their failure to act and either remove or kill this animal . . . contributed to Mr. Boardman’s preventable death.”

A park spokesman could not be reached for comment.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensation for economic losses to Robert Boardman’s estate, including medical and funeral expenses, and damages for pain and suffering.

Boardman was a 63-year-old Port Angeles resident and registered nurse.

The mountain goat had followed Boardman, Chadd and friend Pat Willits and displayed aggressive behavior as they walked along the ridge.

Boardman, who was in the rear of the group, was gored in the leg.

Chadd, who could not be reached for comment, said in the law firm’s statement that the attack was not a “random act of nature.”

“My husband’s death could have been prevented,” she said.

Boardman died within five minutes, according to the park.

The park killed the mountain goat following the attack.

Park officials, which had posted warning signs, knew of at least one aggressive mountain goat but have said they had no way of singling it out from the other goats on the ridge.

They identified the mountain goat that killed Boardman by blood on its fur.

A park ranger operating under new mountain goat management rules killed another mountain goat Sept. 6 that had refused to leave a campsite near Upper Royal Basin for three days.

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Reporter Tom Callis can be reached at 360-417-3532 or at tom.callis@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: November 01. 2011 10:42PM
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