URS Corp., San Francisco, agreed on Aug. 23 to pay $52.4 million to settle claims filed against it on behalf of victims in the August 2007 collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis.
The accident killed 13 people and injured 145 others. URS says it agreed to the pact, under which it admits no liability or fault, to avoid a lengthy trial that was to start next year. Plaintiffs claimed the company had missed signs of structural stresses on the bridge during a pre-accident inspection, but URS has said it was not involved in the span’s design or construction. Authorities contend design flaws caused the collapse, aggravated by too much weight on the bridge during a resurfacing project. URS, which is publicly held and, with $4.8 billion in 2009 design revenue, ranks fourth on ENR’s list of The Top 500 Design Firms, says the settlement, to be covered by insurance, was in “the best interest” of the firm and its shareholders. The plaintiffs’ attorney says the settlement amount includes $1.5 million that will finance construction of a memorial to accident victims.
Still unsettled are claims brought forth by the state and URS Corp. against Jacobs Engineering, the successor engineering firm to Sverdrup & Parcell & Associates Inc., the firm that designed the bridge in 1960. Trial is set for next April in Hennepin County district court before Judge Deborah Hedlund.