MSU to pay $0 in $3.2 million settlement in fatal tower collapse in 2018

Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- A $3.2 million global settlement has been reached concerning lawsuits in connection with the fatal broadcast tower collapse in Fordland nearly three years ago.

The news came during a Missouri State Board of Governors meeting this week. The Fordland tower was owned by KOZK, the PBS station operated by Missouri State University.

In October 2018, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA) issued a report vindicating MSU from responsibility. The report said the fault was on the two contractors the university had worked with, Steve Lemay LLC and Tower Consultant Inc.

Rachael Dockery, general counsel and chief compliance officer at MSU, said there were several lawsuits filed in early 2020 from the family of Steve Lemay, the man who died in the collapse and two of his employees. MSU’s property insurer also filed a subrogation claim.

“Our property insurer brought a subrogation claim because we received almost $8.3 million from our property carrier due to the loss of that tower and other property,” she said.

Subrogation means most insurance carriers can legally pursue a third party that caused an insurance loss to the insured. The property insurer was looking to be reimbursed.

Dockery then added there is a whole mess of insurance companies involved as well.

“We had a liability policy, Steve Lemay had a liability policy and an excess policy,” she said.

In 2020 Dockery told the board that going into a February 24 mediation meeting, there was no way it would settle due to a large number of attorneys involved; she admitted to being wrong in the meeting.

“I am here to tell you that I was happily wrong. The February 24 mediation was successful, and that global settlement was reached, meaning that all of those outstanding claims were resolved,” said Dockery.

Dockery says the total amount of the settlement was $3.2 million, and it is expected to be paid for by liability insurance carriers and excess liability carriers for Steve Lemay LLC and TCI.

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