BRYAN, Texas -- A federal appeals court has ruled Texas A&M officials cannot be held responsible for the deaths of 12 students and injuries to 27 others in the 1999 Aggie Bonfire collapse.
Attorneys for some of those injured or killed in the disaster argued that A&M officials deprived Bonfire victims of their right to due process. They alleged the officials created a dangerous university-sponsored event and were indifferent to student safety by not preventing the collapse.
But the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans on Tuesday upheld a lower court's ruling that the concept of "state-created danger" wasn't clearly established law
before the 1999 accident. Consequently, officials didn't have fair notice that their actions violated students' constitutional rights, the court said.
Since 1909, Aggies have built and burned the Bonfire on the eve of A&M's annual football game against the archrival Texas Longhorns.
In November 1999, the 59-foot-high wedding cake-like stack of more than 5,000 logs collapsed during construction, killing 12 and injuring 27. Aggies have carried on the tradition off-campus since the accident.
A state-level lawsuit against the university, filed in Brazos County in Bryan, is pending.
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