Talks Begin over Compensation for Minnesota Bridge Collapse Victims

Negotiations over a compensation fund for victims of the Minnesota Interstate 35W bridge collapse have begun.

A House-Senate conference committee conducted its first meeting without resolving any major differences between their proposals. The $25 million Senate bill would offer the bridge victims a maximum of $400,000 each, while the nearly $40 million House version has no such limits for individuals.

Governor Tim Pawlenty says in a letter that it wouldn’t be fair to the victims of other accidents to offer uncapped settlements to bridge victims, even if that means some aren’t fully compensated.

Jennifer Holmes, whose husband was killed in the collapse, and Brad Coulter, who was hurt along with his wife and daughters, pressed lawmakers for unlimited individual compensation.

But Linda Paul, who also sustained injuries, says she supports the $400,000 cap.

The panel meets today.