Family Sues After Alabama Airport Sign Collapse

The family of a 10-year-old boy who died when a flight information sign fell on him and relatives at a Birmingham, Ala., airport has filed a suit against a group of contractors, architects and construction managers.

Luke Bresette, of Overland Park, Kan., was killed when the flight information sign, which was about 9 feet tall, toppled onto him and his family March 22 at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.

Authorities have said the sign weighed between 300 and 400 pounds.

The Bresettes, a family of seven, had taken a weeklong vacation in Destin, Fla., and were about to fly home to Kansas City when the sign fell.

Heather Bresette, Luke’s mother, suffered broken ankles and a crushed pelvis. Luke’s brother, 5-year-old Tyler, had a concussion and his 8-year-old brother, Sam, suffered a broken leg and nose.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Jefferson County Circuit Court, accuses the defendants of negligence. The suit claims the contractors caused Bresette’s wrongful death and pain and suffering for the family. reported the suit doesn’t name the airport authority as a defendant, and it’s unclear how much the family is seeking in damages.

The Birmingham News reports the Airport Authority is protected by statutory immunity from liability unless plaintiffs can prove gross negligence or wantonness.

That immunity doesn’t extend to the airport’s contractors.

Weeks before the accident, the airport completed the first phase of a more than $201 million modernization effort.

The Birmingham News and reported that as the design for the flight information display board evolved, design plans called for shrinking the base of the board and adding more weight to the front. Steve Stine, a lawyer for the city, later said the sign was not inspected after it was installed.

He said inspectors were not required to check the display because it was not a structural component of the building.

An architectural company later suggested airport officials bolt the boards to the walls and fasten one display board to the floor using steel rods.

Attorneys for the family issued a statement Wednesday saying they will refrain from commenting on the matter until the conclusion of the case.