On December 29, 2021, Senior District Judge Lacey A. Collier issued an Order and Final Judgment dismissing Skanska’s limitation of liability action in its entirety in a case involving Skanska’s barges breaking free during Hurricane Sally and destroying the Pensacola Bay Bridge and surrounding properties. The Order followed a week long bench trial over which Judge Collier presided in October 2021.
After Claimants filed suit in state court in December 2020, Skanska filed the limitation in federal court, pausing all state court actions and seeking complete exoneration or limitation of its liability to total value the barges that struck property. Judge Collier dismissed Skanska’s limitation action and held that Skanska was negligent in its preparations for the September 2020 hurricane and that it should not be able to limit its financial liability to the $1.2 million value of the barges as it had attempted to do.
The lawyers of Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz, PLLC have worked at the center of the litigation, taking numerous depositions of current and former Skanska employees. Sam Geisler, Nikki Guntner, and Stephen Echsner each cross-examined Skanska witnesses at the bench trial. Mr. Geisler handled the direct examination of the claimants’ expert, Capt. Richard DiNapoli during the October trial.
“Judge Collier’s Order represents a carefully reasoned and thoughtful analysis of the facts presented at trial,” stated Mr. Geisler. “It also represents a rejection of Skanska’s ever-shifting attempts to explain away a disastrous decision to forego moving its barges to safe harbor.”
“This is a great result and a big win for our community,” said Ms. Guntner. “We’re looking forward to what’s to come and committed to continuing to serve the businesses and individuals in our community who have suffered because of Skanska’s negligence.”