Coakley reaches agreement with Big Dig company over death

By John O'Brien | Dec 17, 2008


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Powers Fasteners will pay $16 million to resolve a criminal manslaughter charge and any civil actions stemming from a fatal ceiling tunnel collapse in Boston.

Powers Fasteners had pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter charge stemming from the July 2006 death of 38-year-old Milena Del Valle. The company was hired as part of the I-90 construction project known as the Big Dig.

Del Valle was killed when a suspended concrete ceiling panel collapsed on her vehicle.

"Our goal in this agreement was to reach a resolution of both the criminal and civil matters pending against Powers in a manner that best serves the Commonwealth," Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said.

"By agreeing to comply with the terms of the Deferred Prosecution Agreement and the compliance program, Powers is taking important steps to ensure that a similar incident will be prevented in the future.

"This is a far more meaningful outcome than a small monetary fine. In addition, the $16 million civil payment serves as a deterrent, not only for Powers, but for other companies who work on public projects of this magnitude."

Coakley hired a special prosecutor to pursue the charge. A year ago, it was reported that Paul Ware Jr. was owed nearly $1 million for his work.

The manslaughter charge carried a maximum punishment of a $1,000 fine. The indictment will be revived if Powers Fasteners fails to abide by the terms of a compliance program.

Those terms are:

-Powers must immediately stop sales and production of Power-Fast Fast Set epoxy (Fast Set), the product used in the Interstate 90 connector tunnel;

-Powers must terminate all sales and production of all other adhesive anchors unless an accredited lab issues a report that the product complies with applicable technical standards and Powers uses commercially reasonable steps to obtain final approval from the appropriate regulatory agency;

-Powers must recall all of the Fast Set product currently in the field;

-Powers must publish warnings that Fast Set has failed certain tests and that slippage may be a sign of failure. It will also include the technical advisory issued by the Federal Highway Administration relative to Fast Set. Powers will also issue a notice to end users within 60 days; and

-Powers must place a notice regarding Fast Set in two consecutive editions of all publications where Fast Set is reasonably believed to have been advertised;

An independent monitor will serve as compliance officer.

The agreement also settles Powers' part of a lawsuit filed in Nov. 2006 by the Commonwealth.

Of the payment, $15.5 million will go to the Transportation Infrastructure Fund. The rest goes to the City of Boston for reimbursement.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at john@legalnewsline.com.

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