Engineer who signed off on plans for Cowboys' canopy fined

DALLAS -- The engineer who signed off on plans for the tent-like Dallas Cowboys practice facility that collapsed and seriously injured two team employees three years ago is paying a $12,000 fine to settle faulty design charges from the Texas Board of Professional Engineers.

Enrique Tabak entered into an agreement with the board to pay an administrative penalty of $12,040 last August, and the Canadian engineer has been making quarterly payments that are due to end in June, records show.

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The board began investigating Tabak shortly after the 88,000-square-foot facility, covered by canvas and braced by steel, collapsed in a wind storm during a rookie minicamp in May 2009. Cowboys special teams coach Joe DeCamillis suffered a broken vertebrae and scout Rich Behm was paralyzed from the waist down as result of falling debris.

Board executive director Lance Kinney said the fine is one of the largest handed out by the agency in recent years.

"This isn't just another jaywalking-type thing," he said. "It's a significant fine for us."

Greg Marks, an attorney for Behm and DeCamillis, said the amount is woefully inadequate in light of what occurred.

"Twelve thousand dollars wouldn't even pay for the first day of Rich Behm's hospitalization when his spine was snapped like a toothpick," Marks said.

Tabak, who lives in Toronto, did not respond to messages from The Associated Press.

In the consent order in which he agreed to the fine, Tabak neither admitted nor denied allegations that numerous elements in the plans for the building didn't comply with engineering standards. The allegations were developed for the board by W. Gene Corley of Skokie, Ill., a structural engineer who led investigations into the World Trade Center attack and the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City.

"It appears that (Tabak) signed and sealed design plans for the facility that were not prepared in a careful and diligent manner," the order states.

Tabak could have contested the fine in a hearing in front of an administrative law judge but chose not to.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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