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Gannett Fleming settles with family in Big Dig case, lawyers say

The Cumberland County engineering firm Gannett Fleming Inc. agreed
to pay $3.1 million to settle a lawsuit over a fatal accident in a Boston tunnel, but did not
admit to wrongdoing, lawyers for the plaintiffs said.

The Cumberland County engineering firm Gannett Fleming Inc. agreed
to pay $3.1 million to settle a lawsuit over a fatal accident in a Boston tunnel, but did not
admit to wrongdoing, lawyers for the plaintiffs said.

The tunnel was part of Boston’s
Big Dig project
, which upgraded the city’s highway system. Milena Del Valle,
39, was killed in July 2006 when part of the tunnel’s ceiling fell on the car
she was traveling in. The lawsuit was brought by her family against several
contractors, including Gannett Fleming. The East Pennsboro
Township firm was involved
in the design
of the ceiling. Gannett Fleming did not respond to several
requests for comment.

Other contractors agreed to payments totaling $15 million in
recent settlements, said Bradley Henry, a lawyer for the family. The family had
previously negotiated deals worth $10 million, for a combined total of $28.1
million. Neither Gannett Fleming nor any of the other defendants admitted
fault, Henry said.

The family rebuffed a demand from contractors that testimony
and documents uncovered in the case be kept confidential, Henry said. The
family plans to use settlement funds to support charitable ventures, he said.
Attorneys’ fees of 33 percent are standard but the lawyers in this case are
taking less because of the size of the settlement, Henry said. He declined to
disclose details.

Gannett Fleming is still in litigation with the state of Massachusetts, which
filed a lawsuit seeking to recover damages. Other contractors settled with the
state in a deal announced in January, but Gannett Fleming was not part of that agreement.

Separately, Gannett Fleming’s challenge to a report on the
accident by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is still pending. The
agency has not yet ruled on Gannett Fleming’s request to reconsider the report,
NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said.

Gannett Fleming provides planning, design and construction-management
services. It had more than 1,500 employees and revenue of $242.5 million in
2007, according to Business Journal research.

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