Wrongful Death Suit Filed in Boston’s Big Dig Tunnel Collapse

August 30, 2006

The family of a Boston woman killed when concrete ceiling tiles in a Big Dig highway tunnel fell on her car has filed a wrongful death suit against the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and nine companies involved in the $14.6 billion project.

The lawsuit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court by the husband and oldest daughter of the victim, Milena Del Valle, accuses the turnpike authority, Bechtel Corp., Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas, Modern Continental Construction, Walsh Construction and four other firms of negligence in the July 10 death of Del Valle.

It accuses the defendants of ignoring safety concerns while focusing on saving money and time in the design and construction of the suspended ceiling that collapsed.

The suit does not seek a specific amount in damages. But observers suggest the suit, unless settled out of court, could result in one of the largest punitive damage awards in state history. It also seeks compensation for the family’s loss of the deceased’s income and companionship, her husband’s injuries and emotional distress. Del Valle was mother to three children.

Angel and Milena del Valle were traveling to Logan International Airport when the ceiling of an Interstate 90 tunnel collapsed. Milena was killed in the accident. Angel Del Valle managed to crawl out a car window and escape with injuries.

Turnpike officials indicated they intend to speak with the Del Valles and their lawyers.

“What happened to Milena Del Valle should never have occurred, and we are open to discussing this matter with the family and their attorneys,” Turnpike Authority spokesman Jon Carlisle said in a statement.

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