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Scott Kappes
Scott Kappes
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Behind the Minnesota Bridge Collapse Settlement

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A settlement has been reached in the lawsuit brought by the victims of the tragic Minnesota bridge collapse that claimed thirteen lives in 2007.

The $52.4 million settlement came as the judge was considering a motion from the victims to allow the jury to assess punitive damages in addition to the compensatory damages that were to be paid.

I am sure the defendant, URS Corp., became extremely motivated to reach an agreement before the punitive damages motion was granted. It is possible that they could have been facing a significantly larger payout from a sympathetic jury.

"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," said plaintiffs’ attorney Jim Schwebel in the statement.

USR Corp was hired to evaluate the fatigue and fracture characteristics of the bridge, but reiterated that they were no involved in the design or building of the bridge or later construction projects preformed on the bridge.

Victims of the collapse will be paid roughly $48.6 million of the total settlement. About $2.3 million will be used to reimburse insurance companies that have paid workers compensation during the interim and $1.5 million will be contributed to memorial fund for those lost their lives in the tragedy.

The lawsuit claimed the USR Corp. failed to recognize what attorneys called “clear warning signs” of needed repairs.

Collapse victims also received $36.6 million in fund appropriated by the state of Minnesota in 2008 and also settled with the company that was performing resurfacing work at the time of the collapse for $10 million.