Tropicana Settles Fatal Garage Collapse Lawsuits

Wednesday, April 11th 2007, 9:05 pm
By: News On 6

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ The Tropicana Casino Resort has settled all civil litigation stemming from the 2003 collapse of its parking garage that was under construction, killing four people, the casino said Wednesday.

Another 20 workers were injured in the collapse, which came less than an hour after a city inspector had visited the site and found nothing was wrong. The families of the men who died sued Tropicana, its parent company, Aztar Corp., and several contractors on the job.

The plaintiffs will share $101 million under the settlement, said Robert Mongeluzzi, one of the group's lawyers. He said it was the largest settlement amount involving a construction accident case in U.S. history.

``This project collapsed for a very simple reason _ the floors were not connected to the walls,'' Mongeluzzi said during a news conference Wednesday night. ``This is how buildings are built and stay up.''

In a statement issued earlier Wednesday, the Tropicana said it was ``grateful that the litigation surrounding this tragic event has been resolved, and that we can participate meaningfully in the resolution. Our thoughts and prayers remain with all the families involved.''

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration said in a 2004 report that a lack of steel reinforcements in the parking garage's concrete and inadequate support for the completed floors were to blame for the collapse of the garage's top five levels.

The 2,400-space garage was being built as part of a $265 million Tropicana expansion called The Quarter, which included upscale shops, restaurants and clubs to go along with Atlantic City casinos.

Wednesday's settlement was announced about two months before the lawsuit was to go to a jury trial.