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United States

Survivor of Florida bridge collapse sues design-construction firms for reckless negligence

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 March, 2018, 12:44am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 June, 2018, 3:28am

Two days after the last body was removed from a collapsed bridge in Florida, the first civil lawsuit stemming from the tragedy has been filed, alleging reckless negligence on the part of the design and construction companies.

Marquise Rashaad Hepburn, who lives in Miami-Dade County, was “seriously injured” as he rode his bicycle under the pedestrian bridge spanning Southwest Eighth Street at 109th Avenue near the main campus of Florida International University (FIU), according to a lawsuit filed on Monday in state Circuit Court in Miami. 

As the massive, 53 metre (174-foot) concrete slab came crashing down, a car swerved into Hepburn, sending him airborne, according to the suit.

Caught underneath the southern end of the span, Hepburn survived, but was admitted to hospital with undisclosed injuries.

Hepburn hired the law firm Morgan&Morgan and is suing a host of entities involved in the design, construction and oversight of the bridge, “who undertook and allowed inherently dangerous construction activities to proceed without necessary safety precautions.”

He is suing for damages in excess of US$15,000. He says that the cracks spotted under the span should have been taken more seriously and that traffic should have been diverted from under the bridge while workers tested the north end of the span.

Among those listed in the lawsuit are FIGG Bridge Engineers and Munilla Construction Management, the design-build team for the project.

Four crushed to death as bridge at Florida university collapses

Also named are Bolton Perez&Associates, the project’s consulting engineer; Louis Berger, which conducted an independent peer review of the construction; and Network Engineering Services.

Representatives for Munilla and FIGG could be not immediately be reached for comment.

It goes on to allege that the stress testing caused the collapse, and that the dangers of such a test on a cracked bridge without a traffic plan or placing supports under the bridge were “well known to all defendants, both at the time they decided to perform the work and at the time such work was being undertaken.”