Lawsuit settled in boy's death at Alabama airport

September 3, 2014 - 4:04 PM
Airport Sign Falls

Ryan Bresette, center, of Overland Park, Kansas, reads a prepared statement at the Jefferson County Courthouse, Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, after his family reached a legal settlement with contractors who worked on a renovation project at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. Bresette's son, Luke,10, died on March 22, 2013, when a multi-user flight information display fell on him and several of his family members. The terms of the settlement remain confidential. (AP Photo/AL.com, Tamika Moore) MAGS OUT

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A settlement over the death of a boy who was hit by a falling flight information sign inside Birmingham's airport was approved Wednesday, and the family said they had forgiven the contractors involved.

Luke Bresette, 10, of Overland Park, Kansas, was crushed by a flight information sign that fell inside a renovated section of Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in March 2013. His family, returning home from a trip to Destin, Florida, was walking by when the free-standing flight information board toppled over.

Luke's mother, Heather Bresette, was seriously injured. Two of his younger brothers also were hurt. The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against contractors that were involved in designing, making and installing the sign.

Luke's parents and all four siblings each will receive an undisclosed amount of money from the companies under the agreement, approved by Jefferson County Circuit Judge Dan King.

Ryan Bresette, the boy's father, thanked the companies for admitting that mistakes were made and taking steps to ensure they don't happen again.

"Our family, in return, extends forgiveness to them," he said outside court.

Bresette said it's time for healing and reconciliation.

"We miss you, Luke, and we love you so very, very much," Bresette, fighting back tears, said of his son.

The family sued companies that worked on a major renovation at Birmingham's airport, including general contractor Brasfield & Gorie and Bloc Global Services Group, which were in a joint venture; architect KPS Group Inc.; and sign manufacturer Fish Construction.

A trial was scheduled for Nov. 3, but mediation resulted in the settlement.

The flight information board, which was made of metal and glass and weighed as much as 400 pounds, was part of the $200 million airport renovation. The lawsuit said companies were negligent in designing and installing a sign that would fall over in an airport.

The sign and similar ones that had been installed at the airport are now gone from the terminal.

Family attorney Tom Dollar of Kansas City, Missouri, said the companies involved had agreed to make "concrete changes" to ensure that similar accidents don't occur again, but details weren't disclosed.

Dollar said the Birmingham Airport Authority is commissioning a memorial of the boy to be installed at the airport, and the family has created a foundation to honor Luke.