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Lots of disaster experience
Both firms estimate hundreds of thousands of dollars of preparation work will be done.
Both have experience with major disasters. The Robins firm represented India on behalf of the victims in the 1984 Bhopal gas leak disaster that killed at least 10,000 people and injured hundreds of thousands of others. The case against Union Carbide closed with a $470 million settlement.
Schwebel has secured nearly three dozen recoveries of more than $1 million or more. He represented victims of the MGM Hotel fire in Las Vegas, the Williams Pipeline explosion in Roseville, the Nicollet Mall Holidazzle crash and the Minnesotans who lost family members in the Galaxy Airline crash in Reno, Nev., in 1985.
As for who might get sued, Schwebel said San Francisco-based consultant URS Inc. appears to be a potential target.
That company wouldn't be surprised. A spokesman said, "URS stands behind its work, which clearly identified ways to improve the integrity of the bridge. We will defend ourselves vigorously against any unwarranted claims."
Lawyers representing collapse victims say that much of the legal work now isn't about lawsuits, but about helping their clients cope. Some clients face staggering hospital bills and are uninsured. Others are unable to work and pay the mortgage.
Schwebel is certain there will be financial compensation for victims. "We wouldn't be on the top floor of the IDS building if we made a lot of bad judgments as to which cases to get involved in," he said.
Rochelle Olson 612-673-1747