Owner sued over climbing death at game

Wrongful death suit claims owner’s negligence was at fault.
Sunday, March 21, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 4:00 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed in the case of a climbing wall accident last July.

David Moen, representing Kathleen Schmitz, and Thomas Riley, representing Craig Ewing, filed the lawsuit Friday afternoon in the Boone County Circuit Court.

Schmitz and Ewing are the parents of Christine Ewing, who died in July after falling from a portable climbing wall. She was 22.

The suit alleges that Marcus Floyd, defendant and owner of Columbia Climbing Gym and Portable Wall, was negligent in his operation of the wall.

Christine Ewing, of Jefferson City, died a day after falling more than 20 feet from the wall, which was set up at a Mid-Missouri Mavericks game on MU property. She fell when the cable supporting her broke.

“We filed this suit, naming Marcus Floyd and his business as defendants, because after our investigation, we’ve concluded that the cable was obviously defective,” Moen said, “And he put this cable into service and took money from people to climb (the wall).”

The lawsuit alleges that Floyd “failed to exercise reasonable care” and was negligent in that he didn’t inspect, replace or repair the cable. Neither did he provide safety precautions for climbers, such as another cable, a pad beneath the wall or a helmet, according to the lawsuit.

Moen and his clients are seeking actual damages for wrongful death, which would go to compensate the family for their loss, as well as punitive damages of $5 million, which are intended to punish the defendant.

“There is absolutely no excuse for the death of this woman,” Moen said.

Moen said that even though they’d considered filing a suit against the Mavericks as well, during discussions with the team’s attorneys, they were promised that the Mavericks would “do the right thing in the future,” and that they did not need to be brought into this suit.

Floyd is awaiting trial on a charge of involuntary manslaughter relating to the incident. His attorney, Pat Eng, could not be reached on Friday for comment.

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