DALLAS -- A former Dallas Cowboys player who was inside the team's indoor practice facility when it collapsed last year contends the accident caused a career-ending injury and he wants unspecified damages from the builder and companies operated by team owner Jerry Jones.
Tight end Jamar Hunt, who was on the Cowboys' roster as a rookie free agent last spring, said in a court filing that he suffered "serious, disabling and permanent injuries" when the tentlike structure fell on May 2, 2009. Hunt was cut by the Cowboys before training camp last year and has yet to catch on with another NFL team.
Hunt's attorney, Michael Guajardo, said the player suffered a herniated disk in his neck when a steel support landed on him. He said Hunt, who is also a deep snapper, faces a "double-edged sword" because he can't be cleared to play without surgery, but having the surgery will brand him as a damaged commodity to NFL teams.
"You see NFL players bouncing back from this [injury], but those are veteran players with a history of success," Guajardo said. "With a rookie, teams are reluctant to take a chance. The biggest loss for him is losing his dream to play in the NFL."
Hunt, who played at Texas-El Paso, was among 27 players participating in a rookie minicamp in the 88,000-square-foot facility when it crumpled in a wind storm. An inquiry by the National Institute of Standards and Technology concluded that the facility fell in winds of 55 mph to 65 mph -- far less than the 90 mph wind speed specified by engineering standards.
Guajardo said Hunt's claim for damages, filed as an intervention in special teams coach Joe DeCamillas' lawsuit stemming from the accident, is the only one he's aware of by a player.
"He didn't know for sure if he'd make the Cowboys," Guajardo said. "But if he didn't [make the team], there were several other teams that had shown interest and would have picked him up. As a dual position player, he was attractive to most NFL teams."
Hunt, citing the pending legal action, declined an interview request made through the attorney. Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple said the team isn't commenting on Hunt's claim.
DeCamillas, who suffered a broken vertebrae, and team scout Rich Behm, who was left paralyzed from the waist down, have filed identical lawsuits in separate Dallas courts. The suits allege negligence by the company that built the facility, Summit Structures LLC of Allentown, Pa., and cite three entities controlled by Jones for improperly supervising repairs.
Last month, Behm and DeCamillas reached settlements with Summit and its Canadian parent, Cover-All Building Systems Inc., which has been in receivership since April. The settlements were reached after a Canadian court lifted a stay blocking legal proceedings against the failed company and allowed the two Cowboys employees to collect proceeds from its insurance.
Hunt intervened in DeCamillas' lawsuit in April, making virtually the same allegations against Summit and the Jones companies, and in mid-June received the same approval as Behm and DeCamillas from the Canadian court to press a legal claim against Cover-All.