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Cowboys' Training Facility Shared Same Engineer, Builder, and Fate as Collapsed Building in Philly?

By Javier Lavagnino, Esq. on May 06, 2009 4:02 PM

An engineer is reportedly saying he had "limited involvement" in the building of the Dallas Cowboys training facility that collapsed in a storm over the past weekend, injuring a number of individuals including scouting assistant Rich Behm who was left paralyzed from the waist down. The AP reports that, despite being listed as being responsible for the design of the facility, engineer Enrique Tabak insists, "'I was there just a few months ... They brought me in to build little farm buildings - sheds, agricultural applications."

Unfortunately for Tabak, however, this apparently wasn't the first structure he was supposedly responsible for that fell apart. A Pennsylvania court ruled in 2006 that the company Tabak worked for, Summit Structures LLC (which the Dallas Cowboys later hired), was "negligent in the design and construction of [a] membrane-covered building" that collapsed in Philadelphia. Tabak was listed as the engineer responsible for the design of that building too. That collapse reportedly resulted in a multi-million dollar payment from Summit to the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (and keep in mind no one was hurt in that case). The Philadelphia structure was apparently so poorly designed that it "simply collapsed under the weight of the first significant snowfall of the new year".

Summit Structures issued a statement saying that "proper engineering was used during the original construction and the installation of the new roof for the Cowboys facility." For now, the company appeared to try and shift attention to the "severe weather event", indicating it had few answers as to what happened. It should be noted that Tabak is no longer with Summit Structures and is instead employed with a company in Canada.

The Dallas Cowboys are keeping mum at this time as to whether they knew about Summit Structures' history too, as a spokesman issued a "blanket no comment" to all questions relating to Summit Structures. Considering some of the life-altering injuries suffered in the collapse, litigation over the responsibility for the accident certainly would seem plausible, if not likely, and a number of parties could be exposed to liability in such a case.

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