Mass. to Sue Big Dig Companies

November 28, 2006

The state of Massachusetts is preparing to file a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the companies that worked on the Big Dig highway tunnel project, alleging their negligence led to the ceiling collapse that killed a woman from Costa Rica.

Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly is seeking unspecified damages for repairs, loss of tunnel use and toll revenue and other economic factors, spokesman David Guarino confirmed. The lawsuit was to be filed Monday or Tuesday this week, he said.

“This lawsuit is more than just about money, although we will be seeking monetary damages,” Reilly told WBZ-AM radio earlier Monday. “What this case is has always been about is the tragic death of Milena Del Valle. That could have been any one of us.”

The lawsuit, to be filed in Suffolk Superior Court, alleges project manager Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff and Modern Continental Construction Co. were “grossly negligent” in constructing the ceiling that collapsed. The suit also names Gannett Fleming, the firm in suburban Braintree that designed the I-90 connector tunnel; as well as companies that supplied the epoxy or ceiling bolts used to hold up ceiling panels.

Four of the concrete panels, each weighing about 3 tons, fell on a car in which Del Valle, a 38-year-old native of Costa Rica who lived in Boston, was a passenger July 10.

Gannett Fleming also is being sued for breach of contract, Guarino said.

Representatives of Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff and Cambridge-based Modern Continental did not immediately return calls from The Associated Press seeking comment Monday. Both organizations have previously said they stand behind their work.

Representatives of Gannett Fleming also did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.

Del Valle’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in August against many of the same companies as well as the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, the agency that oversees the $14.6 billion (euro11.16 billion) highway project, the most expensive in U.S. history.

The Big Dig replaced the old elevated Central Artery that ran through the heart of Boston with a series of tunnels, ramps and bridges. The project has been plagued by leaks, falling debris, delays and other problems linked to faulty construction.


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