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Engineering firm reaches settlement over Minneapolis bridge collapse

Engineering firm URS Corporation [corporate website] agreed Monday to a $54.2 million settlement [RKMC press release; URS press release] stemming from the 2007 Minneapolis bridge collapse [MPR backgrounder] that killed 13 people. Victims sued URS for negligence, claiming that the company, which has a contract to inspect Minnesota's bridges, should have foreseen that the bridge could collapse due to increased weight from construction projects. Under the agreement, URS's insurer will pay $48.6 million [Minneapolis Star Tribune report] to victims injured in the collapse, $2.268 million to insurance companies that covered property damage and workers compensation claims, and $1.5 million towards a memorial for victims of the collapse. URS did not admit liability in its press release, noting that the company was not involved in the design, construction or renovation of the bridge. The company stated, "URS believes it is in the best interest of the Company and its shareholders to resolve this matter and avoid the cost and distraction of protracted litigation."

URS agreed to the settlement before a judge could rule on whether URS could be held liable for punitive damages as plaintiffs argued last month [MPR report], since, plaintiffs claimed, URS knew that the bridge could collapse. In March, URS reached a $5 million settlement [MPR report] with the state of Minnesota. In 2009, URS claimed that Minnesota was liable [MPR report] for the collapse and that the state had denied its advice to repair the bridge. The state sued URS [MPR report] for negligence and breach of contract in July 2009.

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