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Lawsuit Filed In 'Big Dig' Death

The family of a woman killed in a Big Dig tunnel when 12 tons of concrete ceiling panels fell on her car filed a wrongful death lawsuit Tuesday against the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and contractors that worked on the highway project.

In the lawsuit, the husband and oldest daughter of Milena Del Valle, 39, accuse the authority and 10 companies that worked on the project of negligence in her July 10 death. The lawsuit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, does not seek a specific amount in damages.

"It's hard to imagine a worse set of circumstances, where someone is simply driving along and 3,000- or 4,000-pound concrete slabs, which are negligently affixed to the ceiling, fall down, crushing an individual to death while her helpless husband is unable to extricate her and finally manages to squeeze out of a 12-inch space himself as she suffers a painful death," said attorney Jeffrey Denner, who represents Del Valle's husband, Angel.

"What happened to Milena Del Valle should never have occurred, and we are open to discussing this matter with the family and their attorneys," Turnpike Authority spokesman Jon Carlisle said in a statement.

Del Valle's death prompted tunnel and road closures and sparked a public furor over the $14.6 billion Big Dig project under downtown Boston. The tunnel collapse led to the resignation of Turnpike Authority Chairman Matthew Amorello, who succumbed to political pressure from Gov. Mitt Romney and others.

The Big Dig, the most expensive highway project in U.S. history, buried the old elevated Central Artery with a series of tunnels, ramps and bridges. It has been plagued by leaks, falling debris, delays and other problems linked to faulty construction.

The Del Valles were driving to Logan International Airport when part of the ceiling of the Interstate 90 connector tunnel collapsed, killing Milena Del Valle. Angel Del Valle escaped by crawling out a window.

Del Valle's three children, including her oldest daughter, plaintiff Raquel Ibarra Mora, 23, live in Costa Rica.