Published August 30, 2010
DALLAS – Companies controlled by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones have paid out about $10 million to the two employees seriously injured in the 2009 collapse of the team's practice facility, the attorney for the pair said Monday.
Attorney Frank Branson said the payments in cash and other benefits to team scout Rich Behm and special teams coach Joe DeCamillis totaled about $5 million each. The payments settle lawsuits the two brought against Cowboys Center Ltd. and Blue Star Development Co.; Cowboys Center owned the steel and fabric facility as well as the land on which it stood.
Behm was paralyzed from the waist down and DeCamillis suffered a broken vertebrae when the building collapsed in a wind storm on May 2, 2009. Both still work for the team, which wasn't sued.
Branson also disclosed that a previous settlement with the builder, Summit Structures LLC of Allentown, Pa., paid Behm $19.5 million and DeCamillis $4.5 million.
"Based on what these men and their families have been through, it would be hard for anybody to say there's too much money to give them," Branson said.
Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple said the team had no comment.
Behm and DeCamillis filed identical lawsuits last August alleging gross negligence on the part of Summit and its Canadian parent, Cover-All Building Systems Inc. They added the Jones companies as defendants in March, making the claim that the entities knew, or should have known, that the facility had structural issues that made it hazardous.
Despite the allegations detailed in the lawsuits, the relationship between the two Cowboys employees and the team has remained positive, Branson said.
"The Cowboys have been supportive of Rich and Joe from Day One, and Rich and Joe have remained supportive of the Cowboys," he said.
A lawsuit filed by the Cowboys alleging professional malpractice, fraud and misrepresentation by Summit and Cover-All is still pending in federal court.
Cover-All is in receivership after filing for protection under Canadian bankruptcy laws in March. The company later issued a safety warning saying it had reason to believe that some of its buildings may not meet building codes for wind and snow.
In a report released last October, the National Institute of Standards and Technology said the Cowboys' facility collapsed in winds of 55 mph to 65 mph, far less than the 90 mph wind speed specified by engineering standards.