A $52 million legal settlement will help Minneapolis bridge collapse victims cover lost wages and pay medical bills. The settlement was reached with engineering giant URS Corp. There were 145 people injured and 13 killed in the incident that occurred in August 2007. The Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River broke apart and collapsed during a steamy rush hour. Settlements were previously reached with the state and a paving contractor. All told, Minnesota and two contractors will have paid out $100 million. This incident has caused lots of pain, grief and suffering over the past three years for those injured and relatives of those killed.
This last settlement averts a trial next spring that could have opened URS to punitive damages. Lawyers for the victims claimed that URS overlooked critical deficiencies that led the 40-year-old bridge to fail. URS had argued that its engineers didn’t know about a design flaw in the bridge that made it vulnerable. Hennepin County District Judge Deborah Hedlund had not ruled on the Plaintiffs’ demand for punitive damages when the settlement was reached. The settlement terms called for $48.6 million of the settlement to go to victims, and $1.5 million to be set aside for a memorial to those who died in the collapse.
URS was the last of the major players to agree to a settlement for victims. The state distributed $37 million from a special fund in exchange for an agreement that it wouldn’t be sued. Progressive Contractors Inc., a paving company that had been resurfacing the bridge, reached a $10.5 million settlement last fall with about 130 victims and survivors. PCI also agreed to pay $1 million to settle the state’s claims. URS previously agreed to pay the state $5 million to settle a negligence claim. This latest settlement won’t end the bridge collapse litigation entirely. URS and the state have pending claims against Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. of Pasadena, California, which acquired the now-defunct firm that designed the original 35W bridge.
Source: Associated Press
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