BRIDGE VICTIM COMPENSATION HF 2553

On Thursday the House passed a bill setting up a compensation fund for the victims of the I35W bridge collapse.  The fund amount is $39,320,000 and the bill requires careful monitoring and reporting of the payouts.  During the day on Thursday, several of the proposed amendments failed, one of which would have defined the catastrophe as the collapse of the bridge.  I voted for the inclusion of the definition  because it would have eliminated setting a precedence, however the motion failed.  Another amendment  was to take funds from the recently passed metro sales tax to pay for the compensation fund.  The Speaker of the  House raised the point that such action was not germane.  I voted in agreement with the Speaker, as did 84 others, and that language did not appear in the bill.
I am concerned about the long-term implications of this bill because there was no amendment to establish a cap.  The amendments I voted for and which failed  would have limited the state’s exposure, however the  when the bill came before the House for a yes or no vote, my main concern was for the victims of the collapse.  Under current law, I35W victims are statutorily limited in damages they can seek from the state by Minnesota’s tort caps.  Currently, if survivors sue the state, the most they could receive in compensation, as a group, is $1 million (i.e. if there are 150 survivors and all were compensated equally, each would receive $6,666).

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