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I-35W Bridge Collapse Fund Claims Settled

Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Special Master Panel appointed to administer the I-35W Bridge Collapse Fund has announced that all 179 claims submitted have been settled.

On May 8, 2008, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty signed into law legislation that  devoted $36.64 million to compensate survivors of the August 1, 2007, I-35W bridge collapse. The law established a special master panel to consider claims, make settlement offers and enter settlement agreements with survivors. The Special Master Panel was appointed by now-retired Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Russell Anderson on May 29, 2008.

The law authorizing the compensation process defines an eligible survivor as "a natural person who was present on the I-35W bridge at the time of the collapse." A survivor also includes family members who survive a person who perished in the collapse or the legally recognized representative of a survivor, such as the parent or legal guardian of a survivor who is under 18 years of age, or a court appointed trustee authorized to bring a claim under Minnesota's Wrongful Death Act, Minn. Stat. §573.02.

Persons seeking compensation had to submit their claim by October 15, 2008. Settlement offers were sent out by the end of February, 2009 to be accepted or declined by April 16. All have now been accepted, said attorney Susan Holden, who was appointed to serve as chair of the panel

Holden, speaking on behalf of the panel, said "It's been an honor to participate in a process intended to provide something positive for the survivors.  We will be pleased when all the survivors have their settlement proceeds and our work is completed. We appreciate the cooperation and assistance we have received from everyone involved, the Legislature, the governor, the courts, the Minnesota Attorney General, the Department of Management & Budget, and the lawyers who helped survivors prepare and present their claims."

"Most of all, we thank the survivors for their patience, for participating in this special claims process, and for helping us understand their losses and how this tragedy affected them. The panel recognizes these settlements do not fully compensate the survivors for their losses. We only hope that these settlements will help to ease their burden."