A sharply divided Tampa Bay Water board voted Monday to settle its lawsuit against the company that designed its flawed reservoir, with HDR Engineering handing over $30 million — far less than the cost of a repair, which means the ratepayers would likely pick up the rest of the tab.
The regional utility’s management announced the settlement in a news release, and an HDR executive hailed it as the best possible solution.
But there was a problem. The settlement passed by a vote of 4-3 — and it turns out that’s not enough.
Late Monday, two Pinellas County commissioners who were on the losing side of the vote pointed out what was wrong: The rules governing Tampa Bay Water require at least five of the board’s nine members to ratify any legal settlement.
Votes to approve the settlement fell one short, so “it doesn’t count,” said Pinellas Commissioner Susan Latvala.
Latvala and Commissioner Neil Brickfield had voted against the settlement and then heard about the problem from county attorneys who were familiar with how Tampa Bay Water was set up, she said.…
Project manager, not hospital or county, targeted.
The first lawsuit stemming from the collapse of an unfinished parking garage in February has been filed by two workers injured in the incident.
According to the suit, which names project manager Broaddus + Muñoz as the sole defendant, Joaquin Lopez, 42, and Robert Santos, 40, suffered “serious and permanent injuries to their body” as well as “anxiety, nightmares, flashbacks and depression.”
“This accident has devastated their careers, their families and their health,” said Fidel Rodriguez, the attorney representing the workers.
The multistory North Prow section of the garage was under construction the morning of Feb. 14 when it collapsed. No one was killed in the incident, but Santos and Lopez reportedly were injured, Santos more seriously. He was released from the Reeves Rehabilitation Center at University Hospital in March.
A six-month investigation by Houston-based structural and engineering firm Walter P. Moore and Associates concluded the garage collapsed because workers failed to apply grout between sections of vertical columns supporting the structure.…