South Florida company behind FIU bridge served with previous lawsuit, report says
Contractors face scrutiny during investigation of collapse leaving at 4 dead
MIAMI – The South Florida company behind the construction of the FIU bridge that collapsed Thursday leaving at least four dead had been served with a previous lawsuit for "shoddy work."
Munilla Construction Management (MCM), in partnership with FIGG Engineering, is responsible for building the bridge on Southwest Eighth Street and 109th Avenue just north of the FIU campus.
The Florida Department of Transportation employees released a statement separating themselves from the project and highlighting a requirement that FIU didn't fulfill relating to a secondary design check.
MCM was facing scrutiny over a lawsuit related to a "makeshift bridge" at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport where airport workers had to walk to reach restrooms. In October 2016, a TSA worker fell while walking along the bridge when it "broke under [his] weight."
"They built this makeshift bridge in the area where all the employees work, and it was poorly done,” Tesha Allison told the Miami New Times. Allison is the lawyer representing Joe Perez, the TSA worker. "He had multiple broken bones and damage to his spine ... They did shoddy work."
A Miami Herald report from 2012 highlighted conflict of interest concerns after Miami Commissioner Bruno Barreiro voted to award a $25 million contract to MCM. The Herald reports the project was to build a test track for Metrorail cars and that Barreiro rented space from the company’s owners when those votes were held.
MCM is a Cuban-American, family-owned company founded in 1983 with headquarters in South Florida, but with offices in Texas and Panama and employs more than 1,000 people. MCM specializes in building and heavy civil construction, aviation, transportation, roads and bridges.
The firm is an Engineering News-Record (ENR) Top-400 Contractor according to ConstructionDive.com, an industry website.
In July, 2016, the site posted a press release announcing the awarding of a $66 million project to MCM to build a school at a Guatanamo Bay naval base.
FIGG is headquartered in Tallahassee and designed Boston’s famous Leonard P. Zakim Bridge and Florida’s Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa.
The Tallahassee Democrat reports FIGG built a $233.8 million replacement bridge after the 2007 collapse of the Highway 35 West bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The Virginia Department of Labor cited Figg for safety violations after a 90-ton portion of concrete fell from a bridge under construction near Norfolk, Virginia onto railroad tracks below. Four workers suffered minor injuries, according to media reports.
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