Cowboys settle with coaches hurt in building collapse

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by DAVID SCHECHTER

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

WFAA

Posted on August 30, 2010 at 8:20 PM

You remember the terrifying video: Dozens of people running for their lives as the Dallas Cowboys practice facility came crashing down on May 2, 2009 during a rookie training camp.

Two team employees who were the most seriously hurt have now settled with the Cowboys.

The structure collapse left Rich Behm in a wheelchair; he has already received $24.5 million in a settlement; Joe DeCamillis broke his back and collected $19.5 million.

Now, companies controlled by team owner Jerry Jones are adding about $5 million to each of the victims.

"Mr. Jones and his organization have treated Rich and Joe like they were family," said attorney Frank Branson, who represents the two coaches. "When the time came, they stepped up to the bar and did what was right and had their insurance companies come in and do the right thing."

Lawsuits filed by the victims alleged faulty design and installation of the practice facility, which was made by a Pennsylvania company called Summit Structures. The legal action alleged that the Jones family knew about the risks.

Summit blamed a rare wind event for the structure failure, but the two coaches hired experts that debunked that theory.

As a result of this case and several others, the manufacturer of the tent-like structures went bankrupt and is out of business.

"People are not going to accept the ill-gotten gains they're making from shoddily-constructed product that put people in harm's way," Branson said.

A federal investigation found Summit Structures made errors that contributed to the collapse.

There is concern about thousands of similar buildings that are still in use around the world.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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