Survivor of FIU bridge collapse sues design-construction firms for reckless negligence

Two days after the last body was removed from a collapsed bridge near FIU, the first civil lawsuit stemming from the tragedy has been filed — and it alleges reckless negligence on the part of the companies that did design and construction.

Marquise Rashaad Hepburn, who lives in Miami-Dade County, was “seriously injured” as he rode his bicycle under the pedestrian bridge spanning Southwest Eighth Street at 109th Avenue near the main campus of Florida International University, according to a lawsuit filed Monday morning in state Circuit Court in Miami. As the massive, 174-foot concrete slab came crashing down, a car swerved into Hepburn, sending him airborne, according to the suit.

Caught underneath the southern end of the span, Hepburn survived, but was hospitalized with undisclosed injuries.

Six people died when the pedestrian bridge collapsed on Thursday afternoon.

Hepburn hired the law firm Morgan & Morgan and is suing a host of entities involved in the design, construction and oversight of the bridge, “who undertook and allowed inherently dangerous construction activities to proceed without necessary safety precautions.”

Among those listed in the lawsuit are FIGG Bridge Engineers and Munilla Construction Management, the design-build team for the project. Also named are Bolton Perez & Associates, the project’s consulting engineer; Louis Berger, which conducted an independent peer review of the construction; and Network Engineering Services.

Representatives for Munilla and FIGG could be not immediately be reached for comment.

Hepburn is suing for damages in excess of $15,000. He says that the cracks spotted under the span should have been taken more seriously and that traffic should have been diverted from under the bridge while workers tested the north end of the span.

It goes on to allege that the stress testing caused the collapse, and that the dangers of such a test on a cracked bridge without a traffic plan or placing supports under the bridge were “well known to all Defendants, both at the time they decided to perform the work and at the time such work was being undertaken.”

This report will be updated.

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