N.Y. Construction Worker Receives $3.4 Million for Bridge Collapse Settlement

July 2, 2004

A New York construction worker hurt in a bridge collapse that killed another man has been awarded $3.4 million for his injuries.

Theodore Fox Jr. had claimed in a $70 million lawsuit that poor training and a flawed design contributed to the collapse of the pedestrian bridge on Oct. 10, 2002.

On Wednesday, New York state Supreme Court Justice Robert Julian finalized a $3.4 million judgment for Fox. Julian had previously decided that Tioga Construction Co. of Herkimer, the project’s general contractor, was liable for Fox’s injuries.

Fox and nine other men were part of a crew pouring concrete on a pedestrian bridge as part of the Utica-Rome Expressway highway project near Marcy, 55 miles east of Syracuse. Without warning, the 170-foot span twisted, buckled and collapsed 20 feet to the ground.

One man, Scott Couchman, 46, of Mohawk, N.Y., was killed. His wife has a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit pending. The other injured workers filed lawsuits with claims ranging from $20 million to $50 million. Fox is the first to resolve his case. He suffered a dislocated shoulder and a fractured arm and pelvis.

Fox’s lawyer, Michael Laucello, said his client was pleased with the judgment.

The $3.4 million judgment includes $1.67 million for economic damages, $1.5 million for past and future pain and suffering and about $240,000 in interest.

Tioga Construction’s lawyer, Terry Hannigan, said his client plans to pursue legal action against the engineers responsible for the design of the bridge.

An independent investigation found that bridge was not braced properly as workers built it. The braces could not hold the long, narrow bridge as workers poured a concrete deck onto it, the report found.

Hannigan said the report proves that the engineers failed in the bridge design. He felt confident Tioga Construction would recover the money from bridge engineers, he said.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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