DART Hired Engineering Firm Involved in Several Lawsuits

DART Hired Engineering Firm Involved in Several Lawsuits

When we drive on highways, overpasses, and bridges, we assume that they are safe and that the local government has done its due diligence to ensure their safety.

In reality, government agencies may know little about the track record of the companies hired to design and construct the roadways and bridges used by thousands of commuters every day.

That’s the conclusion that The Dallas Morning News came to when it investigated the business dealings of an engineering firm that received millions from the Dallas Areas Rapid Transit, the North Texas Tollway Authority, and the Denton County Transportation Authority.

URS Corp. is currently in a legal battle with the DCTA due to a billing dispute, and now the NTTA is blaming URS for an expensive bridge design flaw where URS was hired as a subcontractor on the Chisholm Trail Parkway project.

The issue is that when URS was bidding on local contracts, it wasn’t upfront about pending lawsuits.

URS was being sued in Minnesota over the deadly collapse of a highway bridge into the Mississippi River. To settle those lawsuits, URS ended up paying over $50 million.

URS neglected to mention that lawsuit, and they didn’t disclose the Florida lawsuit alleging that the company’s design engineering failures led to portions of an elevating expressway collapsing. The Florida case settled for nearly $75 million.

When URS won a DART contract in 2014, it neglected to mention the billing dispute with DCTA, which involved a still-active lawsuit and a subsequent counter-claim.

URS’ failure to disclose its lawsuits has experts questioning the process by which local transportation agencies vet companies that routinely win government contracts, not to mention the subcontractors who are likely scrutinized even less.

DART officials told The News that they were unaware of the lawsuits following the Mississippi River bridge collapse or other suits involving URS.

Though DART has a form that asks companies seeking contracts to provide the details if they have any pending litigation, DART officials said that the companies submitting proposals are responsible for providing that information.

Experts say that many government agencies are not doing enough to ensure that taxpayer dollars are well spent.

Steven L. Schooner, a former senior federal purchasing officer told The News that government agencies should be checking the validity of potential contractors’ answers.

The point is to ensure that our tax dollars are going to responsible companies.

DART requires that potential contractors fill out a “business questionnaire,” which asks questions about the company submitting the bid.

In September 2007, in response to the question asking if there is “any litigation pending” against URS, the URS executive checked “No.” But, at that time, the lawsuit against URS by the Tampa-Hillsborough County Authority was active, and the I-35W Bridge collapsed in Minneapolis less than two months earlier.

In 2007, URS won the DART contract.

In 2014, URS wanted to land another DART contract. When the company submitted a signed questionnaire in April 2014, once again it provided no specifics about the string of lawsuits the company had been the target of in recent years.

To read more about URS and the lawsuits filed against the engineering firm, click here.

Holding Companies Accountable

At The Zendeh Del Law Firm, we hold companies like URS accountable for their negligent actions. If you were injured due to the unsafe or unethical practices of a company, we urge you to contact our firm to discuss your legal options and file a claim for compensation.

Contact a Plano personal injury lawyer at The Zendeh Del Law Firm today!