Aug. 23–An engineering firm that consulted on the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis that collapsed three years ago has agreed to pay $52.4 million to victims.
San Francisco-based URS Corp. had been sued by more than 100 people. They accused the company of missing warning signs on the bridge before its rush-hour collapse into the Mississippi River on Aug. 1, 2007. Thirteen people died and 145 were injured.
URS had argued that its engineers didn’t know about a design flaw in the bridge that made it vulnerable when it collapsed.
“Aug. 1, 2007, marked the greatest manmade catastrophe our state has ever seen,” said attorney Chris Messerly.
Messerly said the firms represented more than 100 victims and had two goals: To expose why the bridge fell, to ensure it would never happen again, and obtain justice for victims.
Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) said, “It didn’t take long frankly after the bridge collapsed to shift from rescue and recovery to concrete and steel.”
Winkler said the human cost was frequently lost. He said it’s a tribute to lawyers and victims being willing to share that helped people remember the human cost.
Insurance companies that paid workers’ compensation and property damages will be reimbursed $2.268 million from the settlement, and $1.5 million will be contributed to the “Remembrance Garden,” a permanent memorial to those who lost their lives.
The remaining $48.6 million will be paid to the victims, said Minneapolis attorney Jim Schwebel.
“While no amount of money can compensate the victims for their losses, it is gratifying to achieve a settlement that will allow for payment of their medical expenses, reimbursement of their lost income, and provide some measure of financial security to their lives,” Schwebel said.
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