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Final settlements reached in Bonfire accident at Texas A&M that killed 12 and injured 27

Posted May 12, 2014 3:15 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Dominic Braus was a freshman at Texas A&M University in 1999 when a 60-foot-high stack of some 6,000 logs came apart in a horrific Nov. 18 accident, killing 12, injuring 27 others and ending the school's 90-year-old Bonfire tradition.

Braus, who almost lost his right arm—which was partly severed when he fell from the massive stack of would-be firewood—is now a lawyer in Waco, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.

Last month, settlements by the final two defendants ended more than 14 years of litigation over the accident in state and federal courts.

Scott-Macon Equipment and Zachry Construction Corp., which provided cranes and operators, agreed to pay an undisclosed total to resolve litigation brought by three survivors and the parents of four students who were killed, plaintiffs attorney Darrell Keith of Fort Worth told the newspaper. Scott-Macon's share was $171,147.

Earlier, the consolidated state case resulted in settlements of $2.1 million, in 2008, by a dozen school administrators and $5.85 million, in 2004, by student leaders of the project, who got the money from their parents' homeowners' insurance policies, the newspaper says.

Keith said the litigation was successful as well in winning agreement from the school that the Bonfire tradition, if it is ever revived, will be conducted under expert supervision. For 90 years, the fire was built the night before the school's big football game against its archrival, the University of Texas. "It was also important for the public to see that the legal justice system brought out the truth of what really happened," he told the newspaper.

A federal case brought by other victims and survivors ended in 2007, when the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a ruling that administrators were not liable for deaths and injuries from the Bonfire collapse.

The settlements "took a long time,” Braus said. “But, in the end, justice was done, and we can move on.”

See also:

ABAJournal.com: "Bonfire Could Return to Texas A&M, Following $2.1M Settlement"

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