An engineering firm that consulted on a Minneapolis bridge that collapsed in 2007 has agreed to pay $52.4 million to victims, attorneys said Monday.
San Francisco-based URS Corp. had been sued by more than 100 people who accused the company of missing warning signs in the Interstate 35W bridge before its rush-hour collapse into the Mississippi River. Thirteen people died and 145 were injured.
The settlement averts a trial that had been set for next spring and relieves URS of the uncertainty of facing possible punitive damages.
URS had argued that its engineers didn't know about a design flaw in the bridge that made it vulnerable. In a statement, the company said the settlement was necessary to avoid protracted litigation and said it admitted no fault.
The two sides had argued in court last month over the victims' request to seek punitive damages. Hennepin County District Judge Deborah Hedlund, who had yet to rule on that request, worked with the two sides on the final terms of the settlement, the victims' attorneys said.
The terms called for $48.6 million of the settlement to go to victims, and $1.5 million to be set aside for a memorial to those who died in the collapse.
URS was the last of the major players to fight lawsuits by victims seeking compensation. The state paid out $37 million from a special fund in exchange for an agreement that it wouldn't be sued. A paving company that had been resurfacing the bridge, Progressive Contractors Inc., reached an undisclosed settlement last fall with about 130 victims and survivors. PCI also agreed to pay $1 million to settle the state's claims. And URS agreed to pay the state $5 million.
The settlement wouldn't end 35W-related litigation entirely. URS and the state have pending claims against Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. of Pasadena, California, which acquired the now-defunct firm that designed the original Interstate 35W bridge.