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Boston 'Big Dig' contractor settles ceiling collapse case for $458M

[JURIST] Lead contractor Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff [corporate website] has agreed to a $458 million settlement to end an inquiry stemming from a July 10, 2006 ceiling panel collapse in Boston's $15 billion Big Dig [official website] tunnel project that killed one person, officials said Wednesday. In July 2007, the National Transportation Safety Board [official website] concluded that the ceiling collapse was most likely caused [press release; report, PDF] by the "inappropriate use of an epoxy anchor adhesive" by construction contractors Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff and Gannett Fleming, Inc [corporate website]. A US Attorney told reporters that the settlement did not shield Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff from liability for any possible "future catastrophic events" over the next ten years that cause between $50 and $100 million in damages. Reuters has more.

In September 2007, an anchoring and fastening product manufacturer pleaded not guilty [AG press release; JURIST report] to criminal charges stemming from the collapse. Power Fasteners [corporate website] was indicted [press release; JURIST report] on one count of involuntary manslaughter based on allegations that Powers was aware that the wrong kind of its epoxy product was being used to anchor three-ton cement ceiling tiles but failed to alert project managers either through marketing materials or when specifically asked. Powers has maintained that it was unaware that its epoxy product would be used to support the ceiling of the tunnel. The charge against Power Fasteners was the first criminal action taken in connection with the collapse.

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