The tragic death of a man who fell over a stairway handrail at the Mile High Stadium during a Denver Broncos game in 2016 has resulted in a wrongful death claim in Colorado. After falling more than 60 feet—equivalent to six stories—Jason Coy died after receiving blunt force injuries to his skull, head, neck and body. Coy was reportedly sitting on the stairway railing prior to his fall. A number of defendants are named in the lawsuit, including food and beverage vendors at the game that night, Metropolitan Football Stadium District, Stadium Management Company, PDB Enterprises, Bowlen Sports and PDB Sports.
Defective Corridor and Staircase Claimed
Coy’s widow filed the wrongful death lawsuit, claiming the defendants in question breached their duty of care by failing to ensure the safety of the fire escape Coy fell from. The lawsuit claims the fire escape corridor and staircase were defective, containing a dangerous condition—which was not obvious. Denver Community Planning said in a statement that the stairway at Mile High Stadium would have had to meet or exceed code at the time they were built in 2001, passing fire, architectural and structural reviews. Legal analyst, Scott Robinson, says the wrongful death claim faces an uphill battle unless it is determined the stairway did not comply with all applicable codes in force at the time.
Defendants in Wrongful Death Claim
The lawsuit names three “John Does,” including an unidentified food vendor, and unidentified beverage vendor, and an unidentified security guard. Since there is no claim in the wrongful death suit that Coy was intoxicated at the time of his fall (even though autopsy results showed a BAC of .171), it is unclear why the concessionaires and security guard were named in the lawsuit. The wrongful death suit was filed by Coy’s widow a year after he fell to his death on the fire-escape stairs.
Coy left behind five children (ranging from six months to 11 years at the time of his death); his widow is seeking lost wages, lawyer fees and medical expenses, although there was no specified amount of money asked for in the claim. Because the Metropolitan Football Stadium District is a governmental agency, the maximum liability is $150,000, although there is no maximum liability for the other entities named in the claim. This is the second time a fall at the Mile High Stadium resulted in death or serious injury. A 42-year old man fell about 15 feet in 2015, receiving serious injuries from the fall.
Further Reading: How MADD Changed the Drunk Driving Landscape
Wrongful Death Claims in Colorado
Like other states, a wrongful death claim in the state of Colorado is a civil lawsuit which seeks to establish liability for a death. In order to establish liability, it must be shown there was intentional wrongdoing, reckless behavior or negligent behavior on the part of another person or entity. In some cases, a defective product can also be the negligent “party,” forming the basis for a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death claim is similar to a personal injury claim, however the “injured” person is no longer alive to pursue his or her own claim, therefore the claim is filed by the person’s survivors.
In the state of Colorado, a surviving spouse is the only person who may bring a wrongful death claim within the first year following the death. During the second year, the surviving spouse and surviving children may file a claim. The parents of the deceased may file a wrongful death claim in the state only if there is no surviving spouse and no surviving children. If you have lost a loved one to an accident which was caused by the negligence, recklessness or intentional wrongdoing of another person or entity, it could be beneficial for you to contact an experienced Colorado wrongful death attorney.