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Florida Bridge Collapse: Victim's Family Sues Construction Firms

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- The family of one of the victims killed when a bridge collapsed at Florida International University has filed a lawsuit against the companies involved in the bridge construction process.

Ana Maria Oviedo Garcia, the wife of Rolando Fraga, is claiming wrongful death in the lawsuit filed against FIGG Bridge Engineers, Inc. and Munilla Construction Management.

Fraga, 60, was on his lunch break when the bridge collapsed onto his silver Jeep Cherokee last week.  He leaves behind a 15-year-old son who lives in Panama with his mother and his wife.

He was one of the six victims killed when the pedestrian bridge came crumbling down onto vehicles on 8th Street on March 15th.

The attorneys say the bridge engineer and construction company did not pay enough attention to safety.

"They knew better. They knew better. These companies have been in business for 30 years and they knew they should have closed the road down," said Attorney Christos Lagos who represents the family.

The lawsuit alleges FIGG and MCM were negligent and had sufficient warning signals that a public safety hazard existed.

Lagos said the area should never have been open to traffic while tests were being conducted on the pedestrian bridge linking the school to Sweetwater.

"They were actively working on tension cables. The NTSB yesterday confirmed that construction cables were being adjusted when the bridge collapsed. They put the public at unnecessary risk," said Lagos.

CBS4 spoke to his nephew a day after the tragedy.

"It's pretty hard. He was 60. It's not just about his age. He's a good person," said Jorge Fraga, the victim's nephew.

The over $14 million bridge project at FIU was led by Munilla Construction and FIGG Bridge Engineers and moved into place just days before the incident.

In the lawsuit, the attorneys said two days before the collapse, a FIGG engineer left a voicemail with the Department of Transportation (DOT) saying he noticed cracking on the bridge. They say FIGG and MCM held a meeting to discuss that the morning of the collapse.

There was also another problem that morning.

"A man under the bridge heard a bull whip-like cracking sound," said Lagos.

In response, MCM's president released a new statement saying: "Right now, our focus is working closely with NTSB investigators to help figure out what caused this accident. Litigation matters are being handled by outside counsel. Our hearts continue to go out to the victims and their families."

FIGG says, "FIGG bridge engineers will work diligently with authorized investigators in an earnest ongoing effort to determine what led to the accident and what can be done to ensure that nothing like it happens again."

In response, Fraga's attorney said, "Safety is all over their website. It is all over their website. Safety is the biggest concern. They need to be proactive."

The attorneys for Rolando Fraga want to find out who was at that meeting that MCM and FIGG had on the morning of the bridge collapse and what they discussed about the crack that was noticed and what else was said.

They say the lawsuit will give them subpoena powers to find out. They are suing for the family's pain and suffering and want a trial by jury.

Click here for more coverage on the FIU bridge collapse. 

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