DALLAS — The May 2009 collapse of a Dallas Cowboys practice facility was caused by the structure’s faulty design, poor workmanship and a failure to disclose that the building was out of compliance with building codes, according to two lawsuits filed by The Law Offices of Frank L. Branson on behalf of injured Cowboys’ scouting assistant Richard Behm and special teams coach Joe DeCamillis.
Mr. Behm and Mr. DeCamillis and several others were injured at the Valley Ranch practice facility during a thunderstorm on May 2 when the roof of the structure split open, causing heavy steel supports to crumple and fall. Mr. Behm was paralyzed from the waist down when his spine was severed by falling debris, and Mr. DeCamillis suffered a serious compression fracture with dislocation of a cervical vertebrae.
The lawsuits charge that the building’s faulty tent-like design presented a safety hazard, and that poor workmanship and improper use of building materials caused the structure to be inadequately secured to its concrete foundation. According to the lawsuits, the building designer was aware of the safety problems but performed only a partial temporary repair and represented to the Cowboys that the design defaults had been permanently and adequately repaired.
The defendants include building manufacturer Summit Structures LLC of Allentown, Pa.; marketer and distributor Cover-All Building Systems Inc. of Saskatoon, Canada; engineer Scott Jacobs and engineering services company JCI Holding LLC of Las Vegas; construction contractor Midwest Building and Fencing Inc. of South Haven, Minn.; construction materials supplier Hilti Inc. of Tulsa, Okla.; and concrete contractor Wrangler Concrete Construction LP of Burleson, Texas.
“What we’ve learned in our investigation is that this tragedy simply did not have to happen,” says attorney Frank Branson, lead counsel for Mr. Behm and Mr. DeCamillis. “Our clients would never have been injured if the building had been constructed properly, if repairs were performed as promised, or if those responsible had made any of these shortcomings known. Putting people in this building as it was designed and built was a recipe for disaster.”
The lawsuits charge the defendants with negligence and gross negligence and seek unspecified damages, including past and future medical treatment and loss of earning capacity for Mr. Behm and Mr.DeCamillis.
The Law Offices of Frank L. Branson represents clients in cases involving complex product liability, catastrophic injury, commercial air crashes, professional negligence, and business torts.<Back