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Court take expansive view of "dangerous condition" exception to sovereign immunity in wron

Updated: Jun 29, 2022

In Britton v. City of St. Louis, ED105973 (Mo. App. ED. May 28, 2018) the Missouri Court of Appeals recently reversed the dismissal of a wrongful death lawsuit against a City. Plaintiff filed suit after her husband was killed by a driver who ran a red light, lost control of his car, and hit the husband while he was standing at a bus stop. The City filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that sovereign immunity barred the suit. The trial court agreed with the City and dismissed the claims. However, on appeal, the Missouri Court of Appeals reversed. The Court held that because the bus stop was close to oncoming traffic, there was no designated area to sit or stand, there was no shelter of any kind, and there was no warning to pedestrians about the “danger of passing vehicles,” the bus stop might constitute a dangerous condition, and the Court found it foreseeable that a car would break traffic laws and strike a pedestrian given those conditions. As there is an exception to sovereign immunity where dangerous conditions exist, the Court reversed the dismissal and is allowing the case to proceed beyond the motion to dismiss stage.

This decision takes an expansive view of the requirements for a “dangerous condition,” and if the plaintiff ultimately prevails, it could result in far more lawsuits against municipalities based on dangerous conditions.

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