Florida falling-bridge builder agrees to pay $42m to victims and families

A bankrupt contractor that built a bridge in Miami which fell last year, killing six people, has reached a deal with its insurers to pay up to $42m in compensation.

Magnum Construction Management (MCM), formerly known as Munilla Construction Management, was the contractor for the prefabricated pedestrian bridge which collapsed onto a busy road only five days after being erected at Florida International University last March. 

Six died in cars and eight more were injured.

Once a prominent construction firm in South Florida, MCM filed for protection from creditors in a bankruptcy court in March this year. 

A judge must approve the settlement agreement, filed in federal bankruptcy court on 30 April, reports The Miami Herald, which said there are more than 20 other defendants being sued by victims in multiple litigations.

"I hope this is the first major step in getting closure for these families that desperately need it," said attorney Alan Goldfarb, representing the family of Alexa Duran, a student at the university who was killed.

"It’s terrible what they are going through. The court case has become a second punishment."

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is still deliberating on what caused the collapse, but in November 2018 it released a preliminary report concluding that design errors that could have caused concrete cracking observed before the bridge fell. 

Engineers overestimated the load capacity of a critical section, the NTSB said.

The bridge was designed by bridge engineering group FIGG, based in Tallahassee, Florida, and the project was supervised by the Florida Department of Transportation.

Image: NTSB investigator Robert Accetta briefs NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt at the collapse site in Miami on 16 March 2018 (NTSB Photo by Chris O’Neil)

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