Court Battles Still Being Fought Over Skagit River Bridge Mishap
WSDOTNearly three years after an oversize tractor-trailer accidentally knocked down Washington state’s Interstate 5 Skagit River Bridge, lawyers still are in the early stages of a court fight to determine fault and assess who foots the $17 million repair bill.
There are depositions scheduled for April and May, court briefs yet to be filed, a possible mediation hearing in June and, if all settlement efforts fail, a trial that could drag into summer — or longer.
In its final 2014 report of the May 2013 mishap, the National Transportation Safety Board blamed Canadian motor carrier Mullen Trucking’s driver and crew, especially the driver of a pilot escort car for being on the phone with her husband just before the accident,. NTSB also noted that a weak permitting process by Washington transportation officials also contributed to the accident.
The NTSB investigation results largely were lmirrored in a civil lawsuit filed early last year against Mullen by the Washington State Department of Transportation, which claimed the company driver and pilot escort’s actions were “dangerous” and “negligent.”
The state’s lawsuit was consolidated in December with two separate lawsuits seeking undisclosed damages filed by three motorists who “suffered physical and emotional injuries” when their vehicles “plunged into the river” during the bridge collapse, according to court documents.
In addition to Mullen, defendants in the consolidated lawsuits include William Scott, the truck driver whose truck hit the bridge; the pilot escort vehicle driver, Tammy Detray; G&T Crawler Service; and Saxon Energy Services, whose metal casing shed was on the truck headed for Vancouver, Washington.
Scott stayed in the right southbound lane of the bridge, the state’s complaint said.
“Had Scott acted reasonably, prudently and safely by driving in the left southbound lane of the Skagit River Bridge, which had adequate vertical clearance, the Saxon load, the subject collision would not have occurred,” according to the WSDOT complaint.
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|By Eric Miller|
© 2016, Transport Topics, American Trucking Associations Inc.
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