In today's Los Angeles Times, there's an article about the Minnesota Interstate 35W bridge collapse, that occurred in August 2007. It was a tragedy that injured over 100 people and killed 13. The article concerned the testimony at the National Transportation Safety Board.
What was interesting to me about the article, as a lawyer who represents personal injury victims in Los Angeles, is how the people and companies clearly responsible for the disaster seem mainly concerned with covering their "assets" rather than sincerely trying to get to the real causes of the collapse. One of the primary purposes of hearings at the National Transportation Safety Board is to hopefully prevent future accidents. But obviously the attorneys for the responsible parties are advising the participants at the hearing. And that is inexcusable.
Here is one quote which particularly bothers me. Lawyers for Progressive Contractors Inc., the company that had been repaving the bridge issued a statement claiming the construction firm was not responsible for the collapse. "Given the problems with the gusset plates, it was only a matter of time before the bridge collapsed. PCI just happened to be there when it did," the lawyers' statement said."
While it is clear that there were problems with the gusset plates, the fact is there was almost 300 tons of construction equipment piled on top of the steel plates when the bridge gave way -- causing vehicles and their helpless passengers to fall into the Mississippi river in a horrifying catastrophe.
The Lawyers for Progressive Contractors do the investigative hearings a disservice by their outrageous statement. And they are insulting the intelligence of the members of the National Transportation Safety Board. Even more importantly they are insulting the families of the dead and the injured.
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