Settlement reached in death of firefighter Bruce Britt, killed in collapse
COLUMBIA - Three years after Lt. Bruce Britt was killed in a walkway collapse at University Village Apartments, the firefighter's widow and the University of Missouri have reached a settlement for an undisclosed amount in a wrongful death suit.
Britt died Feb. 22, 2014, while working the scene of a structural collapse at the university-owned complex. An eyewitness reported Britt was walking on a partially-collapsed, second story balcony when it fell in on him.
His widow, Leigh Britt, filed suit claiming the university 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 Defendant's death."
The university said it could not have predicted the walkway collapse at University Village Apartments. But email and other documents released by MU show there were concerns dating back several years.
An engineering firm hired by the university, Trabue, Hansen & Hinshaw, Inc., said "concrete shear failure" caused the collapse. The firm said some other areas of the complex showed "complete section loss of steel and concrete deck."
New court documents show Leigh Britt has "dismissed with prejudice" claims against individual members of the university's Board of Curators. The initial lawsuit sought "in excess of $25,000" in damages.
The document says, "There are substantial disputes between the plaintiffs and The Curators concerning whether The Curators were negligent and whether any negligence on The Curator's part caused injury to or the death of the Decedent or damages to the plaintiffs."
The settlement is meant to avoid the "expense, delay and uncertainty of trial," the document says.
A judge will rule on whether to accept the settlement Feb. 13.