More court battles, allegations in Big Dig investigation

| 7/26/2006

As the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court weighed its decision on one court case related to the Boston traffic tunnel known as the Big Dig, another potential case was announced.

The Boston Globe reported that the husband of Milena Del Valle – the woman killed when a three-ton concrete slab fell from the ceiling of a Big Dig tunnel and crushed the car she was riding in – has hired a lawyer and is planning to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

The Globe reported that the suit has not yet been filed as lawyers are still working to determine exactly who will be named as defendants.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Judicial Court heard testimony on Wednesday, July 26, in the lawsuit filed by Massachusetts Turnpike Authority Chairman Matthew Amorello, who wants to stop Gov. Mitt Romney from removing him from his post with the authority.

Amorello’s lawsuit charges that Romney – who scheduled a hearing for Thursday, July 27, to determine Amorello’s fate – does not have the authority to strip Amorello of his power.

The Boston Herald reported that, while attorneys for Romney cited precedent and urged Justice Francis Spina to allow the hearing to go forward, Amorello’s attorneys argued that his term is set by state statute and Romney has no authority to change that.

Amorello’s side further argued that removing him now would only further impede the Turnpike Authority’s investigation into the collapse.

No decision from the court had been made at press time.

Meanwhile, The Globe reported that a 1999 memo from the on-site safety officer for the Interstate 90 connector tunnel – where the collapse occurred – warned officials that the bolts would not support the heavy concrete panels used in the ceiling.

John Keaveny, the officer who wrote the memo, told The Globe that he was assured by his superiors at contractor Modern Continental and Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, the private sector manager of the project, that the bolts had been tested and were proven to work.