Contractor on collapsed Miami bridge faces $54m in damages

A court in Miami this week granted bankruptcy protection to the contractor in charge of building the pedestrian bridge that collapsed in Miami a year ago, killing six people.

During court proceedings on Wednesday more was revealed about the financial difficulties and victims’ claims facing Magnum Construction Management (MCM, formerly Munilla Construction Management).

It wants four of its insurance companies to cover at least $42m and up to $54m in damages claimed by victims’ families, its attorney said in court.

Victims’ attorneys had agreed the $54m cap in settlement negotiations, reported newspaper The Miami Herald.

"The bankruptcy process should facilitate rather than interfere" with the victims’ claims, said David Rosendorf, an attorney representing victims in court, according to the Herald. "Nothing about the bankruptcy process should let the insurers off the hook."

The bridge’s designer, FIGG Bridge Group, is also the subject of damages claims, the Herald reported.

MCM was struggling before the bridge disaster, it has emerged.

According to documents in its bankruptcy filing, it ended 2017 with more than $8m in losses, its second loss-making year in a row.

Trouble mounted after the collapse, however.

The firm’s attorney Jordi Guso told the judge on Wednesday that MCM filed for bankruptcy after the Texas Department of Transportation terminated its contract on a road project, said the Herald. That project would have generated $35m for the company.

MCM is also foregoing an estimated $200m worth of projects with the state of Florida, which suspended MCM’s bidding license pending an investigation into the causes of the collapse now underway by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Guso also said that, two weeks after the collapse, the company’s revolving line of credit with Bank of America, worth $25m, was not renewed.

In an interim report the NTSB concluded that there were design errors which could have caused concrete cracking observed before the bridge fell, but the board reserved judgement on the cause of the collapse.

MCM sought Chapter 11 protection from creditors at the beginning of March in order to restructure, meet its payroll, and finish ongoing projects, of which there are 31.

Now that protection has been granted it will use debtor-in-possession financing from its sureties, worth $18m, to reorganise and keep functioning.

Image: Aerial view of the accident site soon after the bridge collapsed (Miami-Dade Police aviation unit via Twitter)

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  1. Why should the insurance companies stand good for most of the damages? That is like inviting construction companies to be careless.

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