In this Saturday, May 2, 2009 file photo, firefighters investigate the collapsed canopy that covered the Dallas Cowboys indoor football facility in Irving, Texas. Four Cowboys staff members were injured when the roof collapsed on Saturday. Two Dallas Cowboys employees Rich Behm and special teams coach Joe DeCamillis, seriously injured when the team's indoor practice facility collapsed in May, have filed lawsuits Tuesday Aug. 25, 2009, against the companies that built the structure.
As the Dallas Cowboys take the practice field at Valley Ranch for the first time since the practice bubble collapsed, the hangover of the incident is just beginning.
The Dallas Morning News has reported that scouting assistant Rich Behm and special teams coach Joe DeCamillis filed suits Tuesday against several defendants stemming from the early-May practice bubble collapse at Valley Ranch, in which DeCamillis suffered a broken neck and Behm was paralyzed from the waist down.
The suits accuse all defendants of negligence and two of conspiracy, in the words of The News, "of knowing at least two years ago that the facility was unsafe and covering it up."
Dallas attorney Frank Branson, who is representing the two victims, said that he will leave it up to a jury how much his clients will be awarded if they win the case and doubts that the team will be found responsible in any manner for the May 2 incident.
Cover-All Building Systems, the Canadian company that designed and manufactured the structure, its U.S. construction affiliate, Summit Structures, and Las Vegas consulting firm JCI are charged with conspiracy in the suits, which were filed Tuesday morning.
The News had reported previously that JCI helped Cover-All and Summit design reinforcements for the structure after it was determined to be flawed from an engineering standpoint in 2007.
Cover-All and Summit designed a similar structure in 2003 in Philadelphia that collapsed after a snowstorm hit the city only six weeks after being opened. A judge determined design and engineering flaws to be responsible for the collapse in 2006.
Manhattan Construction, which was the initial contractor for the structure that was built in 2003, is not yet a defendant, but Branson said he needs more information to determine if the Dallas-based company is responsible to any degree. According to the initial report, Manhattan maintains that their role in the construction of the bubble was minimal.
"I need more information before deciding whether to add Manhattan and other companies to the list of defendants," Branson said to The News.
According to the report, Tom Fee, a Dallas-based defense attorney representing Summit and Cover-All, declined to comment on the suits.