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Friday, November 2, 2007

The latest on the 35W bridge litigation

Editor's Note: Minnesota Lawyer received the following press release yesterday from the Minneapolis law firm of Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben.

Today the Minneapolis law firm of Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben representing several families of persons who died in the I35 bridge collapse, and numerous injured victims, filed a Motion to Compel Mn/DOT to release documents in its possession, and to allow for expert inspection of those portions of the collapsed bridge now assembled on the Bohemian River Flats.

Attorney Jim Schwebel stated that while Mn/DOT has made available many documents on its website it has withheld critical inspection reports conducted by the private engineering firm of Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. which it hired under a two million dollar contract to determine the cause of the collapse. This private engineering firm has had wide access to the bridge site while lawyers representing collapse victims and their families have had to go to court to receive only limited access. It is unconscionable that this vital information accumulated at taxpayers’ expense should be kept secret from Minnesota taxpayers, and particularly from the victims who have every right to know why this disaster occurred.

In addition, Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben seeks access to allow its bridge experts to inspect numerous portions of the bridge which have been reassembled at Bohemian Flats downstream from the bridge collapse site.

The motion is set to be heard before Hennepin County District Court Judge Herbert P. Lefler in Minneapolis on Nov. 15, 2007 at 8:30 a.m.

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