NBC 6 Investigation

Last FIU Bridge Defendant Settles With Three Victims

The Louis Berger Group -- the only defendant who did not join in $103 million settlement with victims of the March 2018 bridge collapse -- continues to prepare for trial.

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The lone holdout to the $103 million settlement between victims of the March 2018 FIU bridge collapse and the companies they sued for negligence Wednesday announced it had settled three of the six wrongful death lawsuits.

But attorneys for The Louis Berger Group continue to prepare for a trial involving more than a dozen other plaintiffs, where they will seek to show others involved in the project were liable for any damages suffered by those parties.

In all, 20 plaintiffs were part of the negotiation in federal bankruptcy court that led to the $103 million settlement, funded by insurers for the defendants not connected to The Louis Berger Group.

They included MCM, the general contractor, which filed for bankruptcy, and FIGG Bridge Engineers, the designers who the National Transportation Safety Board blamed for design errors that were the main cause of the collapse. FIGG disputes that, blaming MCM for improper construction.

Louis Berger was hired by FIGG to double check the plans, but the NTSB found Berger did not do all that was required, failing to detect the flaws that led to bridge coming apart as traffic flowed beneath it.

At a status hearing Wednesday before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey, attorneys announced Berger settled with the estates of Rolando Fraga, Oswald Gonzalez and Alberto Arias. A fourth lawsuit, filed by the family of Alexa Duran, is nearing settlement.

The amounts of the individual settlements are confidential, but lead plaintiffs attorney Christos Lagos, who represented Fraga, said, “This dispute was resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties.”

The remaining plaintiffs have agreed to appoint five law firms to press their cases against Louis Berger in one trial to determine liability. Louis Berger agreed with that arrangement, but the two sides disagree over how damage trials should occur, assuming Louis Berger is found liable.

Bailey ultimately will decide how the trials will proceed.

Potential damages to the remaining plaintiffs vary widely, Bailey noted. They range from a worker with several young children who suffered traumatic brain injury, to a man who says he was injured when a driver, distracted by the collapse, struck him with his car as he rode his bicycle nearby.

Depositions in the case are slated to begin next week.

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