- More businesses as well as individuals in Pensacola, Florida, have filed lawsuits against Skanska USA Civil Southeast Inc. for damages they allegedly sustained after company barges for the $430 million Pensacola Bay Bridge project broke loose during Hurricane Sally in September. As of Nov. 16, a total of 25 lawsuits have been filed against Skanska.
- Most of the filings made available by the Escambia County Clerk of the Circuit Court demand that Skanska cover economic losses resulting from the bridge's closure. Many businesses have been cut off from customers, resulting in crippling economic losses, according to the first five lawsuits.
- At least one suit, however, was filed on behalf of a husband and wife who claim one of the company's 22 errant barges damaged their dock, seawall and other property. The suits also name as a defendant engineering firm Eisman & Russo, which has a construction management and inspection contract for the project.
Some local residents and law firms have been putting pressure on Skanska to speed up the process of providing information about how they will fix the situation and reimburse those who suffered damage or economic losses related to the barges.
Last week for several days, one of the law firms representing several plaintiffs in legal action against Skanska hired a plane to fly a sign over neighboring Santa Rosa County with the message "Skanska Fix Your Mess." The message was reportedly aimed at drivers stuck in traffic — and who will possibly be forced starting Dec. 13 to pay tolls to use an alternate bridge — while the Bay Bridge is closed.
Skanska told Construction Dive that it deployed "significant resources" to the Pensacola area immediately after the storm, including subcontractors, equipment and consultants to speed up bridge repairs, retrieve the barges, process claims and address public and stakeholder concerns.
"Skanska and our insurers are in communication and have met with all known affected parties who have reported property damage as a result of our barges and equipment," the company said. "Also, our insurers have made initial assessments and are in the process of reviewing claims."
As for the lawsuits, Skanska said it is its policy not to comment on pending or current litigation.
In the most recent construction update from the Florida DOT, the agency said that contractors are working around the clock repairing the bridge and that 300 additional workers have been brought in to help with demolition and reconstruction, salvage and pile operations and concrete fabrication. The estimated date for completion of the repairs is March 2021.
WKRG reported last week that Skanska is in talks with Escambia County about extra costs associated with the bridge closure. Skanska would not comment on what extra costs associated with the incident might be.
The county is seeking at least $15 million to pay for the replacement of a fishing pier and additional funds to pay for the extra staffing necessitated by the closure. The monthly cost for additional EMS personnel alone is estimated to be $56,000 per month.