Settlement Orders Bridge Builder to
Pay $10.35 Million for Blackout
By ROB MORRIS
The Outer Banks Voice
renters and residents who lost power last summer after a transmission
line was cut during construction of the new Bonner Bridge would be able
to claim part of a $10.35 million fund under a preliminary settlement
filed in federal court.
The settlement, which still needs final approval in U.S. District
Court, calls for payouts from PCL Civil Constructors of $8.1 million to
businesses and $2.25 milion to permanent residents and renters.
Separate actions by numerous plaintiffs were consolidated into a class-action suit last year.
Electrical power was cut at 4:30 a.m. July 27 when the company building
the replacement for the 50-year-old bridge drove a steel casing into
the electrical transmission system running underground on the Pea
Island side of Oregon Inlet.
Casings are giant tubes that enclose individual concrete pilings to
keep them in position during installation. Workers were setting aside
the casing for future use by driving it partially into the ground.
After the power went out, Dare and Hyde counties ordered mandatory
evacuations of visitors during one of the busiest times of the tourist
Electricity was restored eight days later after Cape Hatteras Electric
Cooperative bypassed the underground section with overhead wires.
The settlement also calls for the company to pay up to $100,000 in court costs. It caps attorney’s fees at $3.4 million.
Court papers named a firm to handle notices of the settlement and to
set up a website for posting information and downloading claim forms.
An administrator was named to handle claim forms and certify if an
applicant qualifies for payment and how much.
Potential claimants can also file a request for an exclusion.
Otherwise, they will not be able to pursue their own legal action once
the deal is finalized, according to the settlement.
“The settlement agreement is the result of extensive arms-length
neogtiations by experienced counsel over the course of three days of
mediation and assisted by experienced mediator Donald H. Beskind,”
court papers filed March 9 said.