First lawsuit in Miami bridge collapse claims negligence

A bicyclist who claims he was hurt in last week's deadly bridge collapse in Miami filed the first civil lawsuit Monday in the case, accusing builders of reckless negligence.

Marquise Hepburn, 24, is suing various design and engineering companies involved, including Munilla Construction Management and partner FIGG Bridge Engineers.

Hepburn was biking to work Thursday afternoon just as the 950-ton span buckled onto busy Southwest Eighth Street, his attorney, Matt Morgan, said at a news conference. A car veered into Hepburn's path to avoid being entrapped, he added, knocking him off of his bicycle and leaving him caught amid the rubble.

FIU bridge collapses: 

37 PHOTOS
FIU bridge collapses
See Gallery
FIU bridge collapses
Police lights illuminate the scene of a pedestrian bridge collapse in Miami, Florida on March 15, 2018, crushing a number of cars below and reportedly leaving several people dead. The Miami Herald reported that an unknown number of people were trapped underneath the collapsed walkway, which connected Florida International University to a student housing area. The Florida Highway Patrol said several people were killed, according to US networks. Television imagery from the scene showed a crane being moved into position where the bridge lay in sections across Southwest Eighth Street. / AFP PHOTO / Gaston De Cardenas (Photo credit should read GASTON DE CARDENAS/AFP/Getty Images)
A brand new, 950-ton pedestrian bridge collapsed on SW 8th Street, in front of Florida International University in Miami on Thursday, March 15, 2018. (Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
A brand new, 950-ton pedestrian bridge collapsed on SW 8th Street, in front of Florida International University in Miami on Thursday, March 15, 2018. (Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
A brand new, 950-ton pedestrian bridge collapsed on SW 8th Street, in front of Florida International University in Miami on Thursday, March 15, 2018. (Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
A brand new, 950-ton pedestrian bridge collapsed on SW 8th Street, in front of Florida International University in Miami on Thursday, March 15, 2018. (Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
Florida Highway Patrol vehicles block off SW 8th Street after a brand new, 950-ton pedestrian bridge collapsed in front of Florida International University in Miami on Thursday, March 15, 2018. (Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
A brand new, 950-ton pedestrian bridge collapsed on SW 8th Street, in front of Florida International University in Miami on Thursday, March 15, 2018. (Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
Rescuers search through the rubble of the FIU pedestrian bridge collapse on Thursday, March 15, 2018, at SW 109th Avenue and 8th Street in Miami. (Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
Rescuers search through the rubble of the FIU pedestrian bridge collapse on Thursday, March 15, 2018, at SW 109th Avenue and 8th Street in Miami. (Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
A brand new, 950-ton pedestrian bridge collapsed on SW 8th Street, in front of Florida International University in Miami on Thursday, March 15, 2018. (Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
Rescuers search through the rubble of the FIU pedestrian bridge collapse on Thursday, March 15, 2018, at SW 109th Avenue and 8th Street in Miami. (Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
View of the main span of the FIU-Sweetwater UniversityCity Bridge after collapsing five days after been installed over SW 8 Street-State Road 41 on Thursday, March 15, 2018. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - MARCH 15: A rescue dog and its handler works at the scene where a pedestrian bridge collapsed a few days after it was built over southwest 8th street allowing people to bypass the busy street to reach Florida International University on March 15, 2018 in Miami, Florida. Reports indicate that there are an unknown number of fatalities as a result of the collapse, which crushed at least five cars. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Rescuers search through the rubble of the FIU pedestrian bridge collapse on Thursday, March 15, 2018, at SW 109th Avenue and 8th Street in Miami. (Roberto Koltun/El Nuevo Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - MARCH 15: Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department personel and other rescue units work at the scene where a pedestrian bridge collapsed a few days after it was built over southwest 8th street allowing people to bypass the busy street to reach Florida International University on March 15, 2018 in Miami, Florida. Reports indicate that there are an unknown number of fatalities as a result of the collapse, which crushed at least five cars. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - MARCH 15: Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department personel and other rescue units work at the scene where a pedestrian bridge collapsed a few days after it was built over southwest 8th street allowing people to bypass the busy street to reach Florida International University on March 15, 2018 in Miami, Florida. Reports indicate that there are an unknown number of fatalities as a result of the collapse, which crushed at least five cars. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A crane is seen near a newly installed pedestrian bridge, that collapsed, over a six-lane highway in Miami, Florida on March 15, 2018, crushing a number of cars below and reportedly leaving several people dead. The Miami Herald reported that an unknown number of people were trapped underneath the collapsed walkway, which connected Florida International University to a student housing area and was erected less than a week ago. / AFP PHOTO / AFP TV / Antoni BELCHI (Photo credit should read ANTONI BELCHI/AFP/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - MARCH 15: Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department personel and other rescue units work at the scene where a pedestrian bridge collapsed a few days after it was built over southwest 8th street allowing people to bypass the busy street to reach Florida International University on March 15, 2018 in Miami, Florida. Reports indicate that there are an unknown number of fatalities as a result of the collapse, which crushed at least five cars. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - MARCH 15: Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department personel and other rescue units work at the scene where a pedestrian bridge collapsed a few days after it was built over southwest 8th street allowing people to bypass the busy street to reach Florida International University on March 15, 2018 in Miami, Florida. Reports indicate that there are an unknown number of fatalities as a result of the collapse, which crushed at least five cars. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - MARCH 15: Vehicles are seen trapped under the collapsed pedestrian bridge that was newly built over southwest 8th street allowing people to bypass the busy street to reach Florida International University on March 15, 2018 in Miami, Florida. Reports indicate that there are an unknown number of fatalities as a result of the collapse, which crushed at least five cars. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
This AFP TV video frame grab shows emergency response workers at a newly installed pedestrian bridge over a six-lane highway in Miami on a college campus that collapsed on March 15, 2018, crushing a number of cars below and reportedly leaving several people dead in Miami, Florida. The Miami Herald reported that an unknown number of people were trapped underneath the collapsed walkway, which connected Florida International University to a student housing area. The Florida Highway Patrol said several people were killed, according to US networks. Television imagery from the scene showed a crane being moved into position where the bridge lay in sections across Southwest Eighth Street. / AFP PHOTO / AFP TV / Miguel GUTIERREZ (Photo credit should read MIGUEL GUTIERREZ/AFP/Getty Images)
This AFP TV video frame grab shows emergency response workers at a newly installed pedestrian bridge over a six-lane highway in Miami on a college campus that collapsed on March 15, 2018, crushing a number of cars below and reportedly leaving several people dead in Miami, Florida. The Miami Herald reported that an unknown number of people were trapped underneath the collapsed walkway, which connected Florida International University to a student housing area. The Florida Highway Patrol said several people were killed, according to US networks. Television imagery from the scene showed a crane being moved into position where the bridge lay in sections across Southwest Eighth Street. / AFP PHOTO / AFP TV / Miguel GUTIERREZ (Photo credit should read MIGUEL GUTIERREZ/AFP/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - MARCH 15: Vehicles are seen trapped under the collapsed pedestrian bridge that was newly built over southwest 8th street allowing people to bypass the busy street to reach Florida International University on March 15, 2018 in Miami, Florida. Reports indicate that there are an unknown number of fatalities as a result of the collapse, which crushed at least five cars. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
This is the scene at @FIU after bridge collapses. Police moving the media away “just in case the rest falls down.” https://t.co/Vw2wZKraj1
Cars are trapped under the bridge. Police confirm “multiple deaths.” @MiamiHerald https://t.co/0XopSxLibE
This Miami bridge collapse is horrific. These cars have been completely flattened with drivers inside. https://t.co/mZLkGP3DxF
https://t.co/aU0Qm26R2R
#BREAKING: FIU pedestrian bridge collapses onto SW 8th Street https://t.co/Atutvu2LxG https://t.co/6M14zMPmsP
#BREAKING: New FIU pedestrian bridge collapses. @nbc6 for more details. https://t.co/aEfjfhH01D
Prayers FIU bridge collapses #prayersforFIU
my school finished putting up a bridge a few days ago and it literally just fell. my roommate and i heard it from o… https://t.co/GOqOuO0z5P
#BREAKING: Multiple fatalities reported in @FIU pedestrian bridge collapse. @BDITest just deleted this tweet from 3… https://t.co/HsjBpw8498
#BREAKING: Ground-level footage from near where the pedestrian bridge collapsed near Florida International Universi… https://t.co/5koktURDin
#BREAKING: Police confirm “multiple deaths” after pedestrian bridge collapsed near Florida International University.
just drove under the new FIU bridge before it collapsed on the road https://t.co/zmHfB9Z143
https://t.co/WZMcFnPPWE
Police block a road near a newly installed pedestrian bridge, that collapsed, over a six-lane highway in Miami, Florida on March 15, 2018, crushing a number of cars below and reportedly leaving several people dead. The Miami Herald reported that an unknown number of people were trapped underneath the collapsed walkway, which connected Florida International University to a student housing area and was erected less than a week ago. / AFP PHOTO / AFP TV / Antoni BELCHI (Photo credit should read ANTONI BELCHI/AFP/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Morgan did not detail Hepburn's injuries, but said he was hospitalized and is now on a variety of medication.

"He remains in a bad way and he's recovering," Morgan said.

Hepburn is seeking damages in excess of $15,000, although Morgan estimated lawsuits could top $1 billion in claims.

This initial suit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court comes as investigators work to unravel what caused the tragedy — and follows the revelation that a FIGG engineer working on the bridge warned state officials two days earlier that he had seen cracks in the concrete structure.

The warning was left in a voicemail that was only heard Friday because the recipient of the call had been out of the office on assignment, the Florida Department of Transportation said.

Related: Police believe all victims found in Florida bridge collapse

MCM and FIGG did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the lawsuit, but have previously said they are working with investigators.

Six people died and eight people were injured in the collapse, according to officials.

Morgan said his client's case hinges on what officials knew about the span's integrity and "why were vehicles allowed to travel underneath that bridge if the bridge might have been in a vulnerable state?"

The section of walkway was dropped into place March 10, but wasn't scheduled to open until 2019, when it would have connected Florida International University with the town of Sweetwater.

The university did not design or build the bridge, but awarded the contract as part of a federal transportation grant.

The 174-foot-long section was part of a larger bridge being built that was designed to withstand hurricane-force winds. The method of "accelerated bridge construction" that was being used is considered innovative because it allows a bridge to be assembled on site in a short amount of time with minimal traffic disruption.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told "Meet the Press" on Sunday that the National Transportation Safety Board is testing the salvaged concrete as part of its investigation. He said he couldn't confirm earlier reports that workers were specifically "stress testing" the span at the time of the collapse.

"What we do know is that there was work ongoing. There are these rods that go inside [the bridge], they're like cables, and they were being tightened," Rubio said.

"Whether the work was the cause of it or not remains to be seen," he added.

Students from FIU held a moment of silence Monday afternoon for the six victims. Among those killed was 18-year-old FIU student Alexa Duran, whose uncle has demanded accountability.

"I want people to step up and say, 'Hey, I was the one responsible,'" said Joe Smitha, according to NBC Miami. "Come out of the shadows. Where are you people? This was a colossal failure of the system and this was complete incompetence from the top down."

Read Full Story