A bicyclist who claims he was injured in last week’s Miami bridge collapse is filing a suit against the builders and an engineering firm.
Marquise Hepburn, 24, is reportedly suing Munilla Construction Management and FIGG Bridge Engineers. NBC News writes that Hepburn is targeting several other organizations involved in the erection of the Florida International University footbridge which collapsed Thursday, killing six.
Filed in the state Circuit Court in Miami, the suit claims Hepburn was “seriously injured” while cycling underneath the pedestrian overpass. As blocks of concrete and iron rods began falling to the ground, a motorist swerved into Hepburn, sending him airborne.
The New York Post reports that the 24-year old was hospitalized with ‘undisclosed injuries,’ purported to be serious.
Yesterday, Hepburn hired law firm Morgan & Morgan to sue the individuals and entities “who undertook and allowed inherently dangerous construction activities to proceed without necessary safety precautions.”
At the time of the collapse, workers were making adjustments to the bridge – possibly in response to reports of a crack visible on its façade. The litigation is seeking at least $15,000 in damages and accuses FIGG, MCM and another construction company of failing to recognize the “imminent danger” posed by the fractured concrete.
Hepburn and his attorneys suggested that traffic should have been diverted away from the bridge until it could be declared safe.
Despite the suit and allegations against FIGG, investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board haven’t yet determined the cause of the collapse. Miami-Dade Police are conducting a separate review.
Spencer Mallard, attorney and partner at Lydecker Diaz, told the Miami-Herald that re-routing traffic isn’t necessary unless engineers believe a collapse is imminent. Cracks in concrete structures, he said, are normal.
“At this stage, it’s highly unlikely that anybody can say with any degree of certainty what caused this collapse,” said Mallard, who represented Ajax Construction Corp. in 2013, following a deadly parking garage implosion which left four workers dead.
But Mallard said he expects Hepburn’s litigation won’t be the last lawsuit. Others, he speculated, will be brought forward by survivors and family members of the deceased.
Some analysts claim an engineering technique called Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) may have contributed to the collapse. This type of construction, writes the Miami-Herald, is popular because it lets crews swing slabs into place and continue working without disturbing traffic.
Bridges built using ABC require precision, their structures inherently unstable until fully secure.
Matt Morgan, one of Hepburn’s attorneys, says bridges built using the technique require “close coordination” between engineering firms and construction companies to ensure public safety.
“We are of the opinion that this tragedy was foreseeable and could have been prevented,” he said.
The families of Alberto Arias and Osvaldo Gonzalez – both killed in the collapse – announced their intent to launch a lawsuit of their own Tuesday, expected to be filed later in the week.