The collapse of the Dallas Cowboys’ training facility received a great deal of media coverage primarily because of its connection to professional football. Now it’s learned that the company that built the collapsed Dallas Cowboys’ training facility also manufactured at least three other buildings that have fallen in heavy weather since 2002. The other tent-like facilities manufactured by Allentown, Pennsylvania-based Summit Structures LLC or its related company, Cover-All Building Systems, were warehouse-type buildings in Philadelphia and upstate New York and an indoor arena for horse competition in Oregon. It appears that all of those buildings fell in conditions that included heavy snow.
The collapse of the Cowboys’ facility in heavy winds on May 2nd left 12 people injured, including a 33-year-old team staff member who is paralyzed from the waist down. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has opened an investigation into the incident. There were other injuries to persons who were in the facility. The collapse of the Cowboys’ facility, built in 2003 and upgraded in 2008, has focused attention on Summit as well as Cover-All, based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Summit sells and sometimes installs structures fabricated by Cover-All. The following is a recap of the previous failures:
When a Summit structure covering freight for the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority collapsed in February 2003, it resulted in a lengthy court battle that ended with a jury awarding the port more than $3.4 million in damages. A judge in the case ruled that the building collapsed due to a failure of the design to account for snow buildup on the roof.
Another lawsuit, which is still pending, involves the collapse of a building for storing ice-melting chemicals in Fort Plain, New York. The suit, filed by the insurance carrier for the company that owned the building, alleges that Cover-All’s negligence caused the building to fall when its membrane was ripped during a snowstorm in February 2007.
The Oregon case arose after a rancher had a Cover-All facility built on his property for dressage competition. The 15,840-square-foot building collapsed in January 2002 under the weight of snow that was “substantially” less than the capacity for which the structure was built, according to the lawsuit. The suit has since been settled.
I suspect there will be litigation arising out of the latest incident in Texas. The prior problems will certainly be a factor in that litigation and could result in punitive damages being awarded.
Source: Associated Press
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