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State of Minnesota Filed Suit Against URS for I-35 Bridge Collapse

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The State of Minnesota filed a lawsuit in Hennepin County, Wednesday, against URS Corporation, the state’s I-35 bridge consultant. The suit alleges negligence and breach of contract by URS because they failed to inspect, analyze and evaluate the span’s soundness. In the suit, the state is also asking for URS to reimburse the state more than $37 million in payments made from special victim’s compensation funds and any damages the state may have to pay Progressive Contractors Inc., the construction company that was working on the bridge.

The state alleges that the URS contract specifically required the company to develop tension and compression failure criteria for the bridge’s many components — including the steel gusset plates — using data from how they were supposed to be designed.

URS Corp. is a San Francisco based firm, that had assured the state of its expertise in assessing the need for repairs and the best way to go about doing the repairs. Furthermore, in 2005, URS reported to the state that if “gusset plate buckling occurs, it will not be catastrophic.” In a communication from the corporation in 2006, they told MN-DOT that they would not calculate actual capacities of all of the connections even though that would provide the most accurate results. They said it would be too much work. They proposed to do some approximate but conservative adjustments to the member capacities per design specifications.

The National Transportation Safety Board report, from November 2008, stated that the gusset plates installed when the bridge was built in the 1960s were too thin, and the failure of the plates was a probable cause when the bridge collapsed. The board also stated that findings had pointed to both the bridge’s original flawed design and the spacing of construction materials on the bridge as causes for the collapse.

This information is provided by TSR Injury Law, a premier personal injury law firm serving Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota. Our attorneys were part of the 35W Bridge Collapse Pro Bono Consortium and are now handling six of the personal injury lawsuits from the disaster. For more information call 612-TSR-TIME or submit our free consultation form.

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