$38 million compensation package reached in Minn. bridge collapse

Chris Rizo May 3, 2008, 12:44am

Gov. Tim Pawlenty

Sen. Ron Latz

ST. PAUL, Minn. (Legal Newsline)- A team of Minnesota lawmakers have reached an agreement on a $38 million compensation package for victims of last year's Minneapolis bridge collapse.

The deal, which must be approved by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, would provide everyone on the I-35W Mississippi River bridge at the time it collapsed with as much as $400,000, with an additional $12.6 million pool for those who suffered severe injuries and losses.

"I look forward to signing this legislation into law. It provides needed relief and support for victims and family members directly impacted by the I-35W bridge tragedy," the Republican governor said in a statement Friday.

The accident killed 13 and injured 145 when a span of the bridge tumbled into the Mississippi River during rush-hour traffic on Aug. 1, 2007.

Victims who accept the state settlement aren't precluded from filing lawsuits against other parties in the collapse.

The deal was hammered out by state Rep. Ryan Winkler of Golden Valley and Senate Majority Whip Ron Latz of St. Louis Park, both Democrats.

The lawmakers said they will send their plan to the Legislature as soon as Monday.

"The I-35W bridge collapse had a profound effect on all Minnesotans," Latz said. "I hope that what we have done here helps get the 182 survivors and victims' families on the road to recovery so they can begin to get on with their lives."

Under the plan, claims will have to be made by Oct. 15. A panel appointed by the state Supreme Court will make settlement offers by Feb. 28.

Those who accept the offer will be required to sign away the right to sue the state.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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