Brady Meier family considers options for wrongful death litigation
City officials notified of possible suit
March 27, 2010
Steamboat Springs — An attorney representing the widow of Brady Meier, who died in a Oct. 9, 2009, construction accident near the base of Steamboat Ski Area, confirmed Friday that he has put members of City Council on notice that they could be named as defendants in a future wrongful death lawsuit.
"It was a tragedy we do not believe should have happened," attorney Michael S. Burg, of Burg Simpson law firm in Englewood, said. "We are continuing to work with experts to determine exactly what the cause of his death was."
In addition to members of City Council, the members of the Urban Redevelopment Area Advisory Committee received written notice of a possible claim against them. Burg was clear that no civil suit has been filed and that no decision has been made to name the public officials receiving notices this week. Instead, Burg said, he's keeping all of his options open — state law required him to notify the officials within a prescribed amount of time after Meier's death or lose the right to sue them.
Similarly, Burg said, no private entities have been sued in connection with Meier's death.
City Council President Pro Tem Jon Quinn confirmed he had received the notification from Burg.
"Obviously, everyone feels for the family. It's a tremendous loss," Quinn said.
Meier did promenade work
Meier, who was 29 at the time of his death, was employed by Duckels Construction and working on the first phase of a new public promenade around the base of the ski area when the accident happened. The work entailed replacing a sewer pipe and rebuilding a stream diversion structure so the flow from Burgess Creek could be routed in and out of a culvert. Ultimately, the diversion structure is intended to allow a portion of the water in the stream to flow through a new, open channel in summers and be returned to the culvert during winter.
Meier was working in a small utility vault about 3 feet deep and 4 feet wide when the cap on a pressurized pipe came loose.
It initially was thought that he had been struck in the head by the cap. But after consulting with a Jefferson County pathologist, Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg concluded that Meier was killed by a blast of compressed air that entered his ear and caused a lethal brain hemorrhage.
Burg said he represents Meier's widow, Jenny, and the victim's estate in his investigation into the circumstances leading to Meier's death. He said he thinks "mistakes were made" on the job site that led to Meier's death. He said the possible roles played by professionals working on the job are being considered in his diligence.
Burg said the filing date of a civil suit could be six months or more in the future.
"We won't file until we feel comfortable we've got the right claims," Burg said.
Quinn said he has not discussed Burg's notification with City Attorney Tony Lettunich.