Boston Central Artery/Tunnel Highway Project
The Wall Street Journal reported on Jan. 24, 2008, that “Contractors who worked on the long-troubled Boston Central Artery/Tunnel highway project known as the Big Dig agreed to pay about $458 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the state over a fatal tunnel-ceiling collapse and to cover the costs of leaks and design flaws.” The consortium that oversaw design and construction of the Interstate 90 tunnel project, Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, has agreed to pay $407 million. Several smaller companies will pay about $51 million. The U.S. Attorney that announced the deal said that Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff “grossly failed to meet their obligations and responsibilities to the citizens of Massachusetts and the United States.”
Under the agreement, the company won’t face criminal charges for the collapse in July of 2006. A separate lawsuit filed by Milena Del Valle’s family is still pending. Ms. Del Valle was killed as she rode in a car that was crushed by the collapse.
John MacDonald, chairman of Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, said in a statement that the settlement “is in the best interests of all concerned.”
Eli Lilly & Co.
A recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Jan. 31, 2008, reported that Eli Lilly was close to settling a U.S. inquiry about Zyprexa. Federal prosecutors have been investigating the company’s marketing of the anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa. (The article was based on an article reported in the New York Times).
It said the company could wind up paying more than $1 billion to state and federal governments. Lilly did say that it received a grand jury subpoena from the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania seeking Zyprexa related documents.
Lilly spokeswoman Tarra Ryker said, “We are cooperating with the government in these investigations, and the discussions around those are confidential.” Zyprexa was Lilly’s top-selling drug last year. It rang up $4.8 billion and accounted for 25 percent of the company’s total sales, but it has also brought the company many legal headaches.
Beginning in late 2006, a series of articles in the Times, based on confidential documents, said Lilly downplayed the drug’s risks and marketed it for uses unapproved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Attorneys general from 30 states have subpoenaed documents detailing Lilly’s sales, marketing, and promotional practices for Zyprexa as part of a civil investigation under state consumer-protection laws.
Lilly said in a statement that it promoted its medications “only for approved uses and consistent with all federal and state laws.”
Station Nightclub, West Warwick, RI
Several defendants being sued by relatives of the 100 people killed in the 2003 nightclub fire in Rhode Island have tentatively agreed to a $13.5 million settlement, a lawyer in the case said yesterday.
The San Francisco Zoo
The legal representative for the San Francisco Zoo will have their hands full if the suit filed by the Dhaliwal brothers suit goes to a jury trial.
Mark Geragos represents Paul Dhaliwal, 19, and 23-year-old Kulbir Dhaliwal, the two brothers mauled by a tiger at the San Francisco Zoo on Dec. 25, 2007. The attack left their friend Carlos Sousa dead. There have been insinuations that the three young men were taunting the tiger, Tatiana, when she pounced. (If true, the pair could be guilty of a misdemeanor under San Francisco law that prohibits disturbing zoo animals).
Geragos is well known as a result of his past clients: Winona Ryder (shoplifting) and Scott Peterson (murder).
Geragos says zoo enclosures are supposed to be so secure that animals can’t escape, no matter how provoked they are. “Trust me, when the zoo goes on the stand to defend itself about what happened, it’s going to look pretty bad,” he says. “The bottom line is that these boys were doing no taunting, and the fact that they are being attacked (with allegations) is unconscionable.”
Lawsuits Readied Over The I-35 Bridge
The Attorney General’s Office for Minneapolis will also have their hands full. Dozens of victims of the Minneapolis bridge collapse on Aug. 1, 2007, have filed preliminary paperwork to sue the state. The documents provide a glimpse into an expected “legal battle” over the disaster, in which the Interstate 35W bridge fell 60 feet into the Mississippi River, killing 13 people and injuring 145.
The Attorney General’s office had received notice of potential legal claims from 73 injured bridge victims and their family members. Families of six of those killed also outlined plans to sue for compensation, as did three insurance companies and the owner of a school bus that got trapped in the collapse.
Is There a Possibility for Numerous Future Lawsuits After the Year 2014?
The country will be using compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) that consume less electricity. An article in Forbes magazine on Jan. 28, 2008, pointed out the downside with CFL bulbs is that each bulb contains about 5 milligrams of mercury. (Mercury is a toxic agent and is an indestructible substance.) What happens if you drop a CFL and it breaks? What do you do with the mercury? You’ve got a problem.
The Forbes article mentioned an example from the Investors Business Daily: “According to an article in the Apr. 12, 2007, issue of the Ellsworth American, a woman was installing a CFL bulb in her daughter’s bedroom when it dropped on the floor and shattered. Luckily, the woman knew CFLs contained mercury and called the store where she bought hers for advice. She was advised to call the Poison Control hotline, which in turn directed her to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. DEP showed up and found that mercury levels in her daughter’s room were six times the state’s ‘safe’ level. The DEP specialist gave her a ‘low-ball’ estimate of $2,000 to clean up the room.”
About The Author: Ed Devlin, CBCP, has provided business recovery planning consulting services since 1973 when he co-founded Devlin Associates. Since then, Devlin has assisted more than 300 companies in the writing of their business recovery plans and has made more than 800 seminars and presentations worldwide.
"Appeared in DRJ's Spring 2008 Issue"