UM Curators deny allegations in wrongful death suit

The Curators claim the Missouri Firefighter’s Rule exempts them from liability.

Columbia fireman Bruce Britt was killed February 22 when a walkway at the University Village apartments collapsed during an emergency response, but the UM System Board of Curators claims no liability for the death.

His widow, Leigh Britt, alongside daughter Stormy Britt, filed a wrongful death suit against the UM System Board of Curators on March 31, claiming the curators’ negligence in providing safe conditions at University Village was responsible for Bruce Britt’s death.

Although the curators have not made a public statement as of yet, a response document from the curators, dated May 12, denies the suit’s allegations for wrongful death.

“Defendant Curators acted recklessly and with wanton negligence when it failed to properly maintain and/or construct the Apartments and failed to correct the dangerous conditions on its property, which reckless and wanton negligence caused Decedent’s death,” the petition said.

In their response, the curators admitted the apartments were owned and operated by the board, and that Bruce Britt had died as a result of the walkway collapse.

However, the curators denied that their failure to properly maintain the facility caused a “dangerous condition,” which was the direct cause of Bruce Britt’s death.

The curators also denied having knowledge of the “dangerous condition in sufficient time prior to Decedent’s death to have taken measures to protect against the dangerous condition.”

Furthermore, the curators denied that they were waived sovereign immunity, which protects public entities from liability and suit for compensatory damages, and claimed the Missouri Firefighter’s Rule bars the plaintiffs from claiming compensation for a firefighter killed in the line of duty.

Currently, the plaintiffs are seeking for a minimum of $25,000 in compensation.

University Village and the Student Parent Center, located within the complex, are slated to shut down June 30, pending demolition following the close.

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