University answers lawsuit by firefighter's wife and daughter

Columbia firefighter Bruce Britt died when this walkway at University Village Apartments collapsed in February.

The University of Missouri Board of Curators has responded to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the wife and daughter of Columbia firefighter Bruce Britt, who died when a walkway at a University-owned apartment building collapsed on him in February.

In its response, the University steadfastly denies any wrongdoing in Britt's death.

The University claims the collapse of the walkway, which was built in 1956, was the fault of a third party unknown to it at present; that the University enjoys sovereign immunity as a public, governmental entity; and that Britt's survivors cannot recover damages due to the inherent danger of the job as expressed in the "Fireman's Rule," which prohibits firefighters from filing suit against negligent persons who contributed to a fire.

The University also denies many of the allegations against it levelled by Leigh and Stormy Britt, including that the University knew the walkway was unsafe before Britt's death, that Britt's death was caused by the University's failure to fix the faulty walkway, and that the University could have reasonably foreseen the possibility of a fatal accident.