HEALTH & SAFETY
Live events sector
The frontman of American rock band Fishbone is facing a damages claim in the region of $1.37 million after injuring an audience member in a mid-show leap from the stage in 2010. At the gig at the World Live Cafe in Philadelphia, Kimberly Myers was knocked to the ground after Fishbone vocalist Angelo Moore performed his customary stagedive. She suffering a skull fracture in the fall and sued the show’s promoter and the band’s management in 2010, reaching settlements with both, but began new legal proceedings against the band in 2012 for negligence. Moore failed to respond to the 2012 lawsuit but Judge Jan DuBois based his ruling on the matter on a deposition the Fishbone man gave as part of the 2010 legal action: In that deposition, Moore admitted that he routinely leapt into his audience during his gigs without warning, arguing that alerting audience members to his intent “gives away the whole theatrics or the spontaneity”. He also apparently admitted that audience injuries were not uncommon, but when asked about the risks of stagediving he cited the danger that he might hit the floor, and that lawsuit “predators” might come after you. In the same deposition, Moore was also asked if he had taken any illegal substances prior to the 2010 show. The frontman pleaded the fifth amendment and refused to answer the question, which DuBois interpreted as an indication drugs may have been involved. By failing to respond to this latest claim Moore did not have the opportunity to clarify or comment on his deposition.
In deciding damages in the default judgement against Moore, the judge noted the claimant’s $15,846 in medical expenses to date and possible future medical costs of $351,299. But more than that DuBois said it was appropriate to add non-economic damages for Myers’ future pain and suffering, embarrassment and humiliation, loss of the ability to enjoy the pleasures of life and disfigurement. DuBois said that it was Moore personally who acted negligently at the 2010 show, and therefore it was he who should pay the penalties now. The band’s management and the show’s promoters hasd previously reached out of court settlements with Myers.
In a statement on the band’s Facebook page, Fishbone question the impact the ruling in the Myers case might have on live music performances, stepping up, as it does, health and safety concerns for bands and their associates. The band write: “Due to legal circumstances, we are limited in our response to the recent court ruling. We do not endorse or encourage disruptive behavior that results in injury. We do endorse self expression and feel strongly that self expression is a powerful form of artistic release, as it defines the punk rock subculture we, and hundreds of bands, have been a part of since the late 1970s”. They go on: “We do not encourage people to come forth and participate in, for example, a mosh pit, if it is not something they are familiar with or beyond their comfort level. Our many fans are familiar with our show. The claim against us outlined what was a very unfortunate and accidental circumstance experienced by someone who had never been to a Fishbone concert. We’d like to encourage a discussion by fans, nonfans, the venues and promoters about artistic expression at concerts and how to move forward from here”.