Family Attorney Says Firefighter's Death Was Preventable

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COLUMBIA - The attorneys for the family of Lt. Bruce Britt say it's the University of Missouri's fault the Columbia firefighter died.

Thursday, KOMU 8 News received a copy of the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Rick Barry on behalf of the family of Lt. Bruce Britt, the Columbia firefighter killed after a walkway collapsed at the University Village apartment complex Feb. 22.

"That building was a trap waiting to kill someone," Barry said. "And it killed him".

The lawsuit lists an amount of at least $25,000 the family is claiming in damages, but Barry said that is just a preliminary amount and the final number will likely be in the "hundreds of thousands of dollars".

The suit's main point is that the university "acted recklessly and with wanton negligence when it failed to properly maintain and/or construct the apartments".

The suit says MU is responsible for making sure the apartments are structurally sound and safe and that in December 2012 MU considered renovating or rebuilding the complex but decided not to because of finances.

Barry said now his firm is trying to get its independent consultant out to inspect University Village but MU has been stalling and has still not allowed the consultant to review the complex.

KOMU 8 News reached out to UM system spokesman John Fougere Friday, and he declined to comment on pending litigation.

"I think it's important that the university not use the excuse of pending litigation to avoid the public discussion of important of the matter," Barry said. "You have not only this building that has show obviously its defect, it collapsed, but you have other buildings like it."

MU has 30 days to responded to the suit once it is served.

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