Settlement Finalized in I-40 Bridge Suit

May 24, 2004

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson said the state has settled its lawsuit in the Webbers Falls Arkansas River bridge collapse.

The settlement calls for the defendants to pay the state $4.5 million. The attorney general’s office almost two years ago sued Magnolia Marine Transport Company, Ergon Inc. and William Joe Dedmon alleging negligence in the May 2002 collision.

“The federal government will reimburse the state for all but about $1.5 million in repairs to the bridge,” Edmondson said. “We have already received about $14 million from the federal government. This settlement will ensure that the state will be made whole, and cover our investigative and legal expenses.”

When Oklahoma filed the lawsuit, Magnolia simultaneously filed a motion asking a Mississippi federal court to limit its liability under the Limitation of Shipowner’s Liability Act of 1851. Magnolia claimed this law limited its liability to the value of the ship and its cargo, or about $1.2 million.

“We have litigated this case for two years in Muskogee County District Court; the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma; the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, Western Division; and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals,” Edmondson said. “This settlement is best for the state.”

The agreement has no impact on any individual lawsuits brought by the families of those killed or injured in the collision.

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