When the Dallas Cowboys’ practice facility collapsed in a storm back in May, it seemed like a horrific freak accident, a confluence of just the right weather factors that caused the whole thing to fall down. Since then, however, a steady stream of successively worse details has emerged that has painted the responsible parties in a less-than-flattering light.
Yesterday, new details emerged that are perhaps the most galling and ghastly of all, thanks to a lawsuit against the company who built the Cowboys’ facility. In 2004, the company’s building engineer, Brooke McLarty, sent a chilling warning to his bosses regarding their products: “We can’t continue to operate this way or we’re going to kill somebody.”
That warning was only one piece of the horrible puzzle that is now being put together about Cover-All Building Systems. According to the DALLAS MORNING NEWS:
•The man who did the initial engineering calculations for the Philadelphia building was a trainee in his mid-20s and not a licensed engineer. He also did the Cowboys calculations, McLarty and others said.
•After the Philadelphia collapse, Cover-All put the trainee’s supervisor – Enrique Tabak, McLarty’s predecessor – on probation. It said he was out of the office too much and ignored orders. While on probation, Tabak oversaw engineering for the company’s biggest-name clients ever: the Cowboys and the New England Patriots. After he finished those tasks, he was fired.
•The trainee-supervisor team committed several engineering errors of “amazing proportions” that caused the Philadelphia warehouse to fail under the weight of snow, a building-collapse expert concluded. He found that the warehouse had only one-third of the steel roof framing it needed.
•The veteran Cover-All consultant who certified the engineering on the Philadelphia job admitted that he didn’t review building codes or closely check the company’s design calculations.
In a Pennsylvania court, Cover-All portrayed the shortcomings as inconsequential. It denied blame for the collapse of the six-week-old building, which injured no one.
A judge disagreed and ordered the Canada-based business to pay about $3.5 million in damages.
The snowfall, he wrote, “would have been easily tolerated by the building had it been properly designed and constructed.”
So this wasn’t even the first time this had happened to a Cover-All facility. Yet the Dallas Cowboys, one of the most prominent and wealthy teams in all of sport, went with a company like Cover-All to get their practice facility built. This takes greed and carelessness to a whole new level on the part of all parties involved. Hopefully, at some point justice will be served - but all the money, lawsuits, and criminal charges in the world won’t allow Rich Behm to walk again.