PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — A federal court ruling filed Wednesday found Skanska USA was negligent when preparing for Hurricane Sally, leading to major damage that included a barge taking out part of the Pensacola Bay Bridge.
Businesses suffered, as well as commuters.
A federal judge ruled Skanska’s negligence led to dozens of its barges getting loose during Hurricane Sally.
Those barges damaged the bridge, cutting off a main artery between Pensacola and Gulf Breeze for nine months.
Nikki Guntner, an attorney at Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz, said he was pleased the judge’s ruling.
“So many people have been suffering,” Guntner said. “So many people have lost their livelihoods or come very close to it because of Skanska’s negligence.”
The ruling means more than 900 claimants can now move forward with their lawsuits. A lawsuit filed by Skanska had paused the lawsuits from proceeding.
“The federal court claim — that was Skanska’s attempt to completely exonerate itself from liability or limit its liability,” Guntner said. “So those cases just had to sit there until federal court litigation was solved and because it was resolved yesterday that stay was lifted.”
A class-action lawsuit filed Wednesday against Skanska should bring more claimants.
“All businesses and individuals who suffered economic losses as a result of the bridge closure and having to take an alternate route like the Garcon Point Bridge can be a part of this class action,” Guntner said.
Many businesses in Pensacola and Gulf Breeze closed due to the bridge closure. One that survived was Gulf Breeze Bait and Tackle.
Anmaries Wright, store manager at Gulf Breeze Bait and Tackle said she’s grateful for the ruling and hopeful for what’s next.
“The emphasis on shopping local really made a difference for us and now we just got to move forward,” said Wright. “Not everybody made it through.”
To join the class-action lawsuit, contact Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz.