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Wednesday, May 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Cowboys Seek Damages for Structure|That Collapsed, Injuring Team Members

(CN) - The companies that sold the Dallas Cowboys the steel-frame structure that collapsed in a windstorm, sending 11 players and a coach to the hospital, failed to build to code, and mocked engineers who said the structure was unsafe, the team claims in Dallas Federal Court.

The Cowboys seek punitive damages from Summit Structures, of Allentown, Pa., and Cover-All-Building Systems, of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

From 2003, when the fabric-covered, steel-frame structure was built, through May 2009, when it collapsed in a thunderstorm, the defendants assured the team that the structure met or exceeded building codes and would withstand winds of up to 90 mph, the Cowboys say.

The defendants' "arrogance prevented them from seriously considering any other point of view," the Cowboys add.

The Cowboys say both defendants made statements they knew were untrue, and knew that the "bubble," as the structure was called, would not withstand the force of foreseeable weather.

The most damning allegations come in a paragraph and footnote about "Summit's arrogance":

"It is now evident that, while Summit designed repairs to the practice facility, Summit mocked the consulting engineer retained by the Cowboys to initially determine whether the facility had structural deficiencies requiring a repair. [Footnote superscript.] It is also now clear Summit's arrogance prevented them from seriously considering any other point of view."

Here is the footnote: "See Exhibit E: Summit's internal Memorandum, obtained after the collapse, memorializing conference call with Cowboys and the Cowboys' consulting engineer, Charlie Timbie, stating 'Jeff feels that if he had a full month to make his calcs [sic] and do proper research, he could embarrass Charlie pretty good, but that in the meaning, considering the deadlines, Jeff is prepared to jump through Charlie's hoops, and will be happy to expose Charlie's misconceptions and mistakes down the road during the 'permanent fix' phase."

The structure collapsed during rookie minicamp. Special teams coach Joe DeCamillis needed surgery to repair broken vertebrae. Eleven players were hospitalized and more than 60 others were treated at the scene for cuts and bruises.

The Cowboys seek compensatory and punitive damages for professional malpractice, negligence, fraud, breach of express and implied warranty, misrepresentation, and breach of contract.

The Cowboys are represented by Levi McCathern II.

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