Justices hear arguments in Texas A&M bonfire case

Chris Rizo Sep. 8, 2009, 8:19am

AUSTIN(Legal Newsline) - A construction company is seeking a rehearing of a lawsuit involving the 1999 Texas A&M University bonfire collapse.

Zachry Construction Corp., in a motion to the state Supreme Court, is seeking to have the university held at least partly responsible for the accident that killed a dozen people and injured 27 others.

The logs were to be burned on the eve of Texas A&M's annual football game against its archrival, the University of Texas.

The state high court heard arguments in the case Tuesday. Texas A&M was represented by state Attorney General Greg Abbott's office.

Last year, Texas A&M reached a $2.1 million settlement with several plaintiffs who sued the school and contractors that helped build the 59 foot tower of logs that toppled, ending the decade-long lawsuit.

The stack of logs were 4 feet higher than the school allows.

An independent commission created by the College Station campus found that the stack of bonfire logs collapsed because of structural problems.

"Structurally, the collapse was driven by a containment failure in the first stack of logs," Leo Linbeck Jr., chairman of the five-member commission that investigated the accident, has said.

In May, a state appeals court ruled that 12 former Texas A&M University administrators are not immune from lawsuit claims filed by the families of those killed and the injured.

The 10th Court of Appeals decision affirmed a ruling by 361st State District Judge Steve Smith that the plaintiffs can sue the former school administrators in their individual capacities.

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