Engineering Shortcuts Lead To Building Collapse And Serious On The Job Injuries

Similar to the last blog entry posted by your Charleston personal injury attorneys, today’s post also concerns the Dallas Cowboys. But unlike the last entry, today’s post focuses not on the Cowboys players, but on a 88,000-square-foot practice facility that collapsed in 2009 that has gained recent attention for its negligent construction.

Originally, the tent-like facility’s collapse was attributed to a sudden, violent gust of wind known as a “microburst,” but recent inquiry into the structure’s construction and responsible contractor and its engineer has revealed serious misfeasance and disregard for safety in the facility’s design.

As is the case in many industrial endeavors, economic and monetary cost is contrary to safety. Shortcuts can benefit the bottom line, but detrimentally impact the stability, safety, and overall performance and structural integrity under natural duress such as wind gusts. Ultimately, and generally, cutting corners leads to defective products and creates the potential for serious accidents and injuries.

Here, the contractor hired to construct the practice facility, knew of the structure’s fragility and predisposition to bucking and neglected to adequately cure the issue before its collapse. Furthermore, the contractor attempted to conceal the facility’s defect by submitting falsified engineering calculations to the Cowboys after the team complained of the building’s stability.

While the contractor did replace the practice facility’s fabric cover and undertook other structural repairs a year before the disaster, the investigating federal agency determined said repairs were minor and inadequate for reinforcing the facility’s frame.

Ultimately, a team scout suffered a severe spinal injury that has left him paralyzed from the waist down, a special teams coach suffered a broken neck, and 10 others suffered less serious injuries in the May 2009 collapse.

The engineer involved in the facility’s collapse entered into an agreement with the Texas Board of Professional Engineers to pay an administrative penalty in the amount of $12,040. The products liability attorney representing the injured workers noted penalty’s sum would not even cover the team scout’s first day of hospitalization after his “spine was snapped like a toothpick.”

The injured workers did, however, receive $24 million from the contractor’s Canadian parent company, as well as $10 million in cash and other considerations from companies controlled by the Cowboys owner to settle other lawsuits.

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