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Suit filed against Big Dig firms

BOSTON—Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly announced plans in late November to file a civil lawsuit against 15 companies directly involved in the management, design, construction, and oversight of the Interstate 90 connector tunnel (part of the Big Dig project) that collapsed on July 10, 2006, killing a passenger in a car. The suit alleges negligence and breach of contract against the companies and is filed on behalf of the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Highway Department, and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority. The suit also alleges that Bechtel/Parsons Brinkerhoff (B/PB), the joint venture overseeing the Big Dig, was grossly negligent. Additional engineering firms named in the lawsuit include Bechtel Corporation and Parsons Brinkerhoff Quade & Douglas, Inc., sued individually as well as with the joint venture; Gannett Fleming, Inc.; and Sigma Engineering International, Inc.

The complaint alleges gross negligence against B/PB; breach of contract against B/PB, Modern Continental Construction Corporation (the general contractor), and Gannett Fleming; and negligence against all parties, including the epoxy manufacturer and distributors, surety companies, and the firm that conducted pull testing on the anchors for Modern. It focuses on each company’s role in the design, installation, and oversight of the epoxy anchor bolt system that failed inside the 1-90 connector tunnel.

A criminal investigation involving state and federal law enforcement officers, in conjunction with the National Transportation Safety Board, is continuing under the coordination of the attorney general’s office and is not affected by the filing of the civil suit. The civil suit seeks unspecified damages for tunnel repairs and for the loss of the use of the tunnel, including lost toll revenue and other costs incurred because of the collapse.