BOSTON (CBS) – The family of 35-year-old Caitlin Clavette, a Milton art teacher who was killed by an airborne manhole cover while driving down Interstate 93, is suing for wrongful death.

The suit was filed on Feb. 11, one day before the three-year anniversary of the accident. It requests damages for pain and suffering. The suit was filed by Clavette’s brother, Andrew Clavette, and her father, Leo Clavette Jr., both of Winchester.

“It’s a huge, huge hole for us in our lives, it’s been tough over these three years and one day,” Andrew Clavette said.

Caitlin Clavette (WBZ-TV)

Clavette was driving down I-93 during morning rush hour when an SUV in front of her drove over a manhole cover, sending it through Clavette’s front windshield. The 200-pound cover struck Clavette and exited through her rear windshield. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

“Caitlin was on her way to work that morning and this happened to her but this could’ve been anybody,” Andrew said.

The suit names the state of Massachusetts, and AECOM, of Chelmsford, and Green International Affiliates, of Westford, the two companies that had contracts for the inspection of the I-93 Central Corridor, where the accident happened.

“We want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anybody else, so the inspections that they do in these tunnels we need to make sure that they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” Andrew said.

Caitlin Clavette was killed by a flying manhole cover while driving on I-93 in Boston. (Courtesy Photo)

The Clavette family is naming the companies and the state in the wrongful death due to negligence portion of the suit. However, only AECOM and Green International Affiliates are named in portion of the suit alleging wrongful death due to “gross negligence, recklessness and willful and wanton misconduct.”

“We want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anybody else, so the inspections that they do in these tunnels we need to make sure that they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” Andrew said.

The complaint alleges MassDOT and the two private contractors failed to take the proper precautions to prevent the severely deteriorated 200-pound manhole cover from posing a danger to the traveling public.

A flying metal manhole cover hit and killed Caitlin Clavette on I-93 (WBZ-TV)

“Public records requests show in 2011 AECOM inspected these manhole covers, the 16 or 18 in this part of the tunnel and declared that they were all good or OK in condition,” said Bradley Henry, the Clavette family attorney. “In 2014, despite no changes to those manholes covers, no record of any change, they rated them as an eight, almost like new.”

The suit alleges the AECOM didn’t properly inspect the covers which attorneys believe pre-date the Big Dig.

“In this case what the family most would like to see is that companies that are taking in this case $4 million of taxpayer money to inspect these tunnels, actually inspect the tunnels,” Henry said.

After the accident, Massachusetts Department of Transportation officials said they found no major issues when they inspected 919 manhole covers, sewage drainage system grates and covers for electrical panels. MassDOT said “out of an abundance of caution,” crews took action on 65 pieces of equipment.

Anaridis Rodriguez

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