Judge's Gavel Court

Feds Seek Dismissal In Florida Bridge Firms Case

Judge's Gavel Court
Judge’s Gavel. TFP File Photo

The federal government has urged a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Tallahassee-based companies that could be prevented from working on federally funded projects after being affiliated with an engineering firm that designed a collapsed Florida International University pedestrian bridge.

Nine companies and their owner, Linda Figg, filed the lawsuit in March in U.S. district court to try to block a proposal by the Federal Highway Administration that could keep them off federally funded projects.

The companies are affiliated with FIGG Bridge Engineers, Inc., which designed the Miami-Dade County pedestrian bridge that collapsed in 2018, crushing cars and killing five motorists and one construction worker.

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FIGG Bridge Engineers was blocked in 2021 from working on federally funded projects until 2029.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Grogan wrote in a 23-page motion this week that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the federal government has not decided on what is known as “debarring” the affiliated companies.

“A federal safety investigation determined the probable cause of the accident was errors made by a bridge engineering company and one of its engineers,” the motion said. “A federal agency debarred those parties from federal contracts for nine years. Now the federal agency has information suggesting that the debarred company has attempted to avoid that consequence by using different corporate identities to try to get federal contracts of the same kind. The federal agency is considering whether to debar those entities under regulations made to prevent the circumvention of debarment. But there has been no final agency action on those other proposed debarments — not suspensions — which are still properly ongoing under the applicable regulations. So this action by the debarred company’s owner and company ‘affiliates’ is premature — that is, not ripe — and not unreasonably delayed.”

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The motion also argued that “the federal agency has the authority under federal law to do what it is considering doing but has not yet done. The federal government can make a business decision of this kind to protect the public interest.”

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