Saturday, 2:15 PM
Manslaughter charges dismissed in Big Dig collapse
(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer/file)
The collapse of a section of ceiling in the Interstate 90 eastbound connector tunnel killed Milena Del Valle on July 10, 2006.
By Sean P. Murphy, Globe Staff
State prosecutors have agreed to drop a manslaughter charge against Powers Fasteners Inc., the only company to face criminal charges in connection with the fatal collapse of a section of a Big Dig tunnel, after the New York epoxy maker agreed to pay $16 million to the state and city, Attorney General Martha Coakley said today.
Under the terms, the company also agreed to conduct no business with state and local government until Jan. 1, 2012, and to recall the so-called "fast-set" epoxy that was implicated in the ceiling collapse that killed Milena Del Valle, 38, of Jamaica Plain, in July 2006. The company further agreed to search its records for any purchasers of the epoxy and give them notice.
She said the Del Valle family had approved of the settlement, which Coakley said "helps to protect taxpayers from the effects of shoddy work."
Much of the money will go into a trust fund to help cover state transportation costs, she said.
Jeffrey Denner, a lawyer for the Del Valles, said: "Legally, it ends now. But emotionally it goes on forever" for the family.
Powers Fasteners, of Brewster, N.Y., was indicted on state manslaughter charges in August 2007, after negotiations for a settlement broke down between the state's lawyers and lawyers for the company. Powers had been accused of failing to adequately warn construction contractors of the dangers of using a fast-drying epoxy to secure ceiling bolts, according to the 2007 indictment.
"We are pleased to resolve all matters pending with the government and for Powers to move on and concentrate on its business in tough economic times," Martin E. Levin, one of the company's lawyers, said today.
Milena Del Valle, a passenger in a car driven by her husband, Angel, was killed when the ceiling collapsed in the Interstate 90 Connector tunnels, dumping tons of concrete on the highway. They had been heading to Logan Airport.
Various other companies involved in the Big Dig, including Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, the project manager, have made settlements with the state for hundreds of millions of dollars.
Del Valle's family will collect more than $28 million after reaching settlements this fall with the last and largest of the defendants in the family's civil lawsuit.
The family agreed to accept a total of $18.1 million from construction contractor Modern Continental, Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, six smaller companies, and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority. The family had already settled with two other defendants for $10 million.
Powers Fasteners agreed to pay the family $6 million as part of the settlement.
Asked whether the settlement ends the Big Dig legal wrangle for good, Coakley said: "I feel very comfortable, and I look forward to putting a lot of our assistant attorneys general to work on other matters.''