$101,000,000 – Tropicana Casino Parking Garage Collapse

A global settlement worth more than $101 million has been reached in the massive litigation stemming from the October 2003 collapse of the Tropicana Casino parking garage in Atlantic City that killed four construction workers and injured 30 others.

Robert J. Mongeluzzi Larry Bendesky

Lead plaintiffs attorneys Robert J. Mongeluzzi and Larry Bendesky of Saltz Mongeluzzi Barrett & Bendesky said the deal represents the largest settlement ever of a construction accident case. "This project collapsed for a very simple reason - the floors were not connected to the walls," Mongeluzzi said.

Bendesky said that "the simple explanation of the cause of the collapse is that the floors were not connected to the walls with the required reinforcing steel. Built without the necessary steel, it is no wonder it collapsed like a house of cards."

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.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the Tropicana said it was "grateful that the litigation surrounding this tragic event has been resolved."

If the case had gone to trial in June as scheduled, plaintiffs lawyers said, the trial was expected to last six months.

Under the terms of the settlement, the plaintiffs will be paid $82.5 million in cash and more than $16 million in medical expenses - about $8.2 million of workers' compensation payments to victims that will not have to be repaid, and more than $8.3 million in future medical expenses.

Combined with $2 million in previously settled cases, the total settlement from all of the defendants is $101 million.

The amounts of the various contributions by the settling defendants were not disclosed.

Participating in the settlement were Tropicana; Keating Building Corp., the general contractor; Midstate Filigree Systems Inc.; Fabi Construction Inc., the concrete subcontractor; DeSimone Consulting Engineers, the project's structural engineer; and Site-Blauvelt Engineers, which inspected the concrete and reinforcing steel.

In addition to Mongeluzzi and Bendesky, the plaintiffs' team included attorneys Paul D'Amato of Linwood, N.J., and Michael Maggiano of Fort Lee, N.J.

Mongeluzzi said trial preparation by the plaintiffs' attorneys included taking nearly 250 depositions and reviewing more than 1.5 million pages of documents.

Atlantic County Superior Court Judge William E. Nugent presided over the lengthy pre-trial discovery, and Judge Stephen P. Perskie conducted the settlement discussions.

Bendesky credited Perskie with doing an "exceptional job" in overseeing the settlement talks, noting that he often worked "nights and weekends."

The fatalities, all New Jersey residents, were Michael Wittland, 53, of Pleasantville and James Bigelow, 29, of Egg Harbor Township, both iron workers; and Robert Tartaglio Jr., 42, of Galloway Township and Scott Pietrosante, 21, of Milmay, Buena Vista Township, laborers for Fabi.

Wittland was just six months short of retirement after 35 years as an ironworker. Edward Wittland, his eldest son, suffered a broken neck and was one of the most critically injured in the collapse.

Related Attorneys

Robert J. Mongeluzzi

Office: 215-575-2989

Larry Bendesky
Larry Bendesky Managing Shareholder

Office: 215-575-2952
Mobile: 610-639-3221