ST. PAUL – Minnesota House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement to compensate victims of the Interstate 35W bridge collapse that killed 13 people and left 145 injured.
Rep. Ryan Winkler and Sen. Ron Latz told The Associated Press on Friday that House and Senate conference committee members shook hands overnight.
Chris Messerly, an attorney for many victims of the Aug. 1 tragedy, said the $38 million plan addresses a key sticking point in the negotiations — whether to recognize the state's liability limit by capping awards to individual victims.
Messerly said the deal would allow victims to get up to $400,000 each — and there's a supplemental $12.6 million fund for the worst injured who are facing higher costs.
Latz, D-St. Louis Park, confirmed those details, and said more information would be shared at a 9 a.m. news conference.
Negotiations on a compensation fund have been hung up over the past several days by disagreements over capping awards to individuals and other issues.
The state had a $1 million-per-incident liability cap in effect when the bridge fell. Latz had proposed an amendment that would have allowed bridge victims to sue the state or enter into settlement talks for up to $300,000 each. Latz's amendment would've waived the liability cap, but victims would have to file claims or sue the state to get any money.
Winkler, D-Golden Valley, had said Latz's backup option was "unacceptable" because it would've put victims through a long legal process and leave the most severely injured victims with uncovered costs.