When the images of the 35W bridge collapse first appeared on television, one picture scared the entire nation: a school bus was caught amid the wreckage and 52 children were on board. And the driver, Kimmy Dahl, was somehow able to keep her foot on the brake until every person was off of the bus, including her own two children, Arrianna and David, who initially refused to leave their mom! Just 50 feet back and they could have all been in the river!
Kimmy was honored as a hero by her bus company for the courage and determination she displayed that day. She broke her back in two places, suffering a litany of pain, surgeries, disability and severe emotional distress. She has not returned to the job she loved. She has wrestled not only with her own emotional distress, but also with the emotional distress her children suffered. But being a hero was not good enough to pay all her medical bills. In fact, the architects, designers and contractors who constructed this bridge were completely “off the hook” legally, due to a strange law called the Statute of Repose.
That’s right: because this bridge is considered an “improvement to real estate,” the law provides that 10 years after an improvement to real estate is constructed, the parties responsible for the construction are completely off the hook no matter how negligent they might have been in the construction of the improvement. To add insult to injury, if the State of Minnesota is deemed responsible for the bridge collapse, the maximum amount that is available for all victims and their families is only $1 million dollars – total!! That’s not per victim, but for all the victims combined!
Today the Insider Exclusive goes behind the headlines to show how Kimmy’s lawyer, Fred Soucie, and a group of lawyers lobbied the Minnesota Legislature and Governor to get justice, in the form of a “Compensation Fund” for Kimmy and all the victims of this disaster. Fred and his group of lawyers did this absolutely FREE, because he believes that we, as a society, must not only rebuild the bridge but must also help these victims and heroes rebuild their lives.
Fred Soucie has a national reputation in catastrophic personal injury and wrongful death matters of all kinds. His clients are treated with the utmost care and respect. Fred consistently obtains some of the most significant settlements and jury verdicts in Minnesota. Fred has handled numerous catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases. He is especially recognized for his cases against power companies for electrical injury and death as well as for his work against gas companies for gas explosion injury and death. After law school, Fred worked on a clam boat on the Atlantic Ocean out of Ocean City, Maryland. He learned there is a “right way”, a “wrong way”, and the “Captain Wayne Watson way” to do things—always do things to the best of your ability. Fred took “Captain Wayne’s way” to heart. Fred survived an airplane crash early on in his legal career and knows what it’s like to be injured and have your injuries doubted and disputed by insurance companies. Fred is proud to be an injury lawyer for justice. He takes an active role in supporting community organizations, especially those who support injured victims. The thing Fred is proudest of is what clients say about the firm’s service to them during troubled times.
Soucie Law has helped thousands of clients recover millions of dollars for personal injury and wrongful death victims. Experienced in some of the most high profile cases in Minnesota against formidable insurance, municipal, and corporate opponents, the firm’s attorneys have prevailed for clients whose only mistake was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Car crashes, semi tractor trailer collisions, motorcycle injuries, ATV accidents, bicycle accidents, work injuries, power line and electrical injury, gas explosions, fire and burn injury, farm accidents, air place accidents, and wrongful death…these are just some of the cases the attorneys at Soucie Law have handled for clients.