A federal trial aimed at finding out who was responsible for the collapse of walkways at the Hyatt Regency Hotel was canceled yesterday after victims agreed to a $10 million settlement.
The tentative agreement was reached Sunday night and announced yesterday as the class-action trial was about to begin. It provides a way of resolving the six lawsuits remaining in federal court.
A few cases are unresolved in state court, but none is expected to result in a trial over responsibility for the disaster.
The collapse of the two walkways onto the crowded lobby of the hotel July 17, 1981, killed 114 people and injured more than 200. It spawned lawsuits seeking a total of $3 billion in damages.
The federal settlement is similar to one that has been approved in Jackson Circuit Court, where most of the suits were filed. About 1,200 people had collected nearly $50 million by late last week under that settlement.
Under the agreement, the hotel owners would establish a $3.5 million damage fund and make $6.5 million in contributions to Kansas City agencies as a "healing gesture."
The designers and contractors had been named as defendants in the federal suit, but Hallmark Cards Inc. and its subsidiary, Crown Center Redevelopment Corp., which owns the hotel, accepted liability for actual damages as part of the settlement.
The National Bureau of Standards found that the collapse occurred because of a design change that altered the way the walkways were suspended from the ceiling. No company has acknowledged ordering the design change.