Survivors sue bridge engineers, construction company

Bridge traffic
Traffic streams along the new I-35W bridge after it was opened to traffic this year.
MPR Photo/Bill Alkofer

Three survivors and the relatives of one of the motorists killed in the Interstate-35W bridge collapse are suing an engineering firm that inspected the bridge, and the construction company that was working on the bridge when it fell.

Minneapolis attorney Jim Schwebel said the four are among two dozen bridge collapse victims he represents.

He said their losses may be four or five times the compensation state Legislators approved earlier this year.

"They appropriated $39 million for the victims. If they did not do that they would be paying off all of the victims claims in full. The losses have been estimated to be between $100 and $150 million. But they did that to come forth and make a substantial payment that represented MnDOT's responsibility," Schwebel said.

Schwebel said URS Corporation missed warning signs in gusset plates. He said Progressive Contractors failed to analyze the effect of removing parts of the bridge deck, and loading tons of construction materials onto the structure.

An attorney for PCI said the company is confident the NTSB will conclude construction materials on the bridge did not cause the collapse.

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