$450,000,000 Big Dig Settlement Expected

January 25, 2008

State and federal authorities are prepared to announce, perhaps as soon as today, a settlement of approximately $450,000,000 with the entities that designed and managed the Big Dig Tunnel Project, bringing closure to many legal disputes over a project that had numerous problems, including a fatal ceiling collapse.  According to Boston news sources, Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, the consortium that oversaw the Big Dig project will return $399,000,000 to Massachusetts and a number of smaller companies will pay about $50,000,000 to the state.  The settlement would allow authorities to seek additional damages from Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff in the event of a major failure of the project in the future.  The consortium’s liability would be capped, however, at $100,000,000 in any event of a future failure.  Further, an arbitration clause was added to the settlement to determine any future fault of the consortium.  By entering into the settlement, Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff would avoid state criminal charges.

Last year, Aggregate Industries paid a $50,000,000 penalty to the state of Massachusetts for its role in providing 5,700 truckloads of substandard concrete to the Big Dig, material that was not implicated in the ceiling collapse.  The civil lawsuit brought against Bechtel/Parson Brinckerhoff and other companies by the family of Milena Del Valle, who was killed in the July 2006 collapse, is not, on its face, affected by the state settlement.  So far, only the ceiling tile epoxy  manufacturer, Power Fasteners, Inc., has settled with the Del Valle family for $6,000,000.  The criminal charge against Power Fasteners for one count of involuntary manslaughter is still pending.

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