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Families Get Settlement From Bonfire Tragedy

By: Jennifer Cavazos
By: Jennifer Cavazos

On the same day a memorial was dedicated for the 12 victims of the 1999 Bonfire collapse, a partial settlement was reached in the state case.

The families of four Aggies who died will share $4.25 million with families of three who were injured. The lawsuit alleged negligence.

Darrell Keith, who represents the seven families, says "I believe the red pots and their lawyers decided to settle this case, whether they would admit it or not, they did not want to face overwhelming evidence of their negligence in connection with the faulty design in construction of bonfire that took 12 lives and injured 27 others."

The settlement resolves claims against 25 of the 36 student leaders who oversaw construction of the stack of logs. Keith hopes this settlement will encourage the remaining defendants to resolve their lawsuits.

He adds, "The evidence of the case is going to show the bonfire structure has been built safely for many years. But defendants in this case engaged in activity and conduct that removed the safety features over a period of time."

It's the first resolution of claims resulting from the 1999 collapse. Negotiations continue with the remaining red pot defendants. A trial date is set for March of next year. Keith says the goal of the lawsuit is simple, "To obtain corrective justice to bring about a safe and effective professional supervised bonfires if Texas A&M decides to bring bonfire back in the future."

The University will not comment on legal matters. As far as Bonfire coming back on campus, President Gates says it won't even be discussed until all the lawsuits are over.


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