Private settlements reached in lawsuits over collapse of Miami Dade College garage in Doral

 

aviglucci@miamiherald.com

The families of nine men killed or injured in the collapse of a Miami Dade College garage that was under construction in Doral last year have reached a private settlement in lawsuits against the general contractor and several subcontractors, their lawyers announced Wednesday.

The amounts being paid to the survivors were not disclosed.

The wrongful death and injury lawsuits were filed by relatives of the four workers who lost their lives — Jose Calderon, Robert Budhoo, Samuel Perez, and Carlos Mendoza — and several of the workers injured severely: Christian Ramirez, Francisco Castaneda, Frank Stankus, Anslim Antoine and Mark DiBacco.

The terms of the settlements are confidential by agreement between the parties.

“All parties look forward to better days. There will be no further comment,’’ said a statement issued jointly by attorneys Stuart Z. Grossman, Ervin Gonzalez and Alan Goldfarb.

Defendants in the lawsuits included general contractor Ajax Building Corp.; M.A.R Contracting; MEP Structural Engineering and Inspections; engineers Bliss & Nyitray Inc.; architects Harvard Jolly; Coreslab Structures; Solar Erectors; and Sims Crane & Equipment.

Last month, federal job-safety officials fined five of the companies on the job — including Ajax, MEP, Coreslab and Solar Erectors — for failing to properly secure and inspect columns and other structural elements in the unfinished garage, which collapsed suddenly on Oct. 10 at the college’s Doral campus. Also cited was Florida Lemarc Corp., the grouting contractor.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has not issued a full report or determined a cause of the collapse.

But the agency’s citations appeared to bolster claims in the lawsuits that contractors, working under a tight deadline, made a series of mistakes, including failing to cement the base of at least one column as required by plans. The defect was not detected in inspections, they say.

When a crane struck the garage, the unsecured column shifted, probably helping precipitate the collapse two days later, attorneys said.

Miami Dade is conducting its own probe. The college was not legally liable because the construction job was unfinished and school officials had not accepted the garage, attorneys said.

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