BOSTON Massachusetts' attorney general said on
Monday he will sue 15 companies that worked on the state's
troubled $15 billion "Big Dig" roadway project, alleging their
negligence caused a ceiling panel to break loose and crush a
woman to death this summer.
The state's top law enforcement officer, Attorney General
Tom Reilly, charges that project manager Bechtel/Parsons
Brinckerhoff was "grossly negligent" in building something that
caved in less than four years after the tunnel was opened.
"The clock was ticking. The fuse was lit. It was just a
matter of time until a tragedy occurred," Reilly told a news
The civil lawsuit, which also names the manufacturers and
distributors of the epoxy used to hold bolts, was expected to
be filed on Tuesday in Suffolk Superior Court, Reilly said.
The state is also suing Bechtel Corp., Parsons Brinkerhoff
Quade & Douglas, Inc., Gannett Fleming, Inc., which helped
design the project, Sika Corp, which manufactured epoxy, and
Modern Continental Construction Co., which built the tunnel
ceiling, Reilly said.
The suit comes after a three-ton portion of the tunnel
ceiling collapsed and crushed a car driving through the tunnel
on July 10, killing 38-year-old Milena Del Valle instantly
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney ordered an investigation and
portions of the tunnel are still closed.
The $15 billion "Big Dig" highway project replaced an
elevated expressway system through downtown Boston with a sleek
network of tunnels.
It has attracted negative attention for years, first for
delays and cost overruns that made it the costliest U.S. public
works project and then for this summer's deadly accident.
"Massachusetts taxpayers have rightly been wondering how
this happened, who is responsible, whether it was preventable,
and who's going to pay for these deadly mistakes," Reilly said
in a statement. "Well, today marks a first step in recouping
some of the losses."
While the lawsuit does not estimate damages to the state,
the Boston Globe quoted an unidentified source familiar with
the matter as saying that Reilly would be able to seek more
than $150 million from Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff and
millions more from other defendants.
Del Valle's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in
Reilly, who is leaving office early next year, filed the
suit now to meet an important deadline. A portion of the tunnel
opened to the public six years ago on Nov. 29, and if the
lawsuit had not been filed before that date, the state might
have lost of its potential legal standing.
(Additional reporting by Kevin McNicholas)