Quite literally. The judge was NOT impressed.
From the Pensacola News Journal:
“A federal court judge has sided with the nearly 1,000 homeowners, commuters, business owners and government entities in the case against Skanska over the destruction caused by the company’s loose barges during Hurricane Sally.
The decision, handed down Wednesday, is a major win for the region’s businesses that were significantly impacted by the nine-month outage of the Pensacola Bay Bridge due to damage sustained from the loose barges.
Judge Lacey A. Collier’s opinion finds that Skanska was negligent in its preparations ahead of the September 2020 hurricane and as such, the company should not be able to limit its financial liability to the $1.2 million value of the barges as it had attempted to do.
Skanska had claimed, in essence, that forecasts ahead of Sally did not rise to the level of requiring intense preparations and the removal of 55 barges on site at the bridge construction. By the time the weather forecast had changed, conditions were too dangerous to move them, Skanska said.
The claimants’ attorneys, however, at an October trial laid out the series of forecasts and cones of probability showing the Pensacola area was expected to have high enough sustained winds and impacts that Skanska should have moored the barges as described in the company’s own hurricane plan.
Skanska also had claimed, in part, that Hurricane Sally was such a force that no matter what preparations the company was able to perform, there still would have been significant impact, a claim the court vehemently denied in its opinion.
Under Skanska’s hurricane plan submitted to the Florida Department of Transportation, the company should relocate the barges to one of two “safe harbors” — Butcherpen Cove on the Gulf Breeze shoreline east side of the Bay Bridge, or Bayou Chico on the Pensacola west side of the bridge site.
Instead of following that plan, crews tied the barges to mooring pilings a few hundred yards east of the bridge. Of the 55 barges on site prior to the hurricane, 27 broke loose, crashing into seawalls, landing within inches of homes and taking out a significant portion of the Pensacola Bay Bridge.
Collier’s decision does not impose any kind of direct financial consequence to Skanska, but rather opens the door for hundreds of halted state court cases to continue.
The majority of individual cases were filed in state court in the months following the storm, but were all put on hold when Skanska claimed it was protected by maritime law — something that falls under federal jurisdiction. Collier’s decision dissolves the federal case and allows the state court cases to continue.”
There’s also this bit: Judge orders Skanska to pay $92,000 in fees for destroying evidence in bridge trial
…Long story short. When you go to trial and part of your defense is, “Sure, by contract we had to have a hurricane plan, but nothing says we actually had to carry it out“-
Well. Insulting the judge’s intelligence is never a good way to go for these things….