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1. Paul Wall Gig Raided
Highest Court Fifth Circuit
Year Ended 2009
Plaintiffs Individual(s)
Music Proprietor(s)
Defendants Police Officer(s)
Other Wall, Paul
Short Description As this court opinion makes clear, racism among governmental entities is not a thing of the past, though perhas we'd like to think it is. In the world of music, where racial lines sometimes delineate musical genres' intended populations, these prejudices may unfairly impact people who create, support, and promote specific genres. Hip-hop music, of course, is often the preferred target. In this case, Plaintiffs were two individuals who owned and operated Club Retro, a hip-hop club in Alexandria, Louisiana, operating legally under license from all appropriate agencies. Specifically, the Retro was allowed to admit patrons between the ages of 18 and 21, so long as they did not drink alcohol. The club took appropriate precautions to prevent the admission of illicit drugs, firearms, etc., and complied with governmental restrictions. Regardless, Club Retro was the subject of an excessive, violent S.W.A.T.-style raid, in which a group of police officers burst into the club with shotguns, handguns, and protective gear, physically, verbally, and arguably sexually assaulted numerous Plaintiffs, detained attendees for hours on end, denied patrons access to bathrooms, searched the entire establishment and everyone there, and committed other egregious acts in the process. Despite the intensity of the raid, the club, at the time the officers arrived, was operating legally: it was NOT overcrowded (only 500 people were there, though the capacity neared 700); underage patrons, who were fined by the officers, were present under governmental sanction; and only 7 people (less than 1%) were found with any illicit drugs, which is likely less than at a Phish gig. To make matters worse, the police blockaded a second concert, featuring Paul Wall, the following month, which prevented all but 67 people from attending. Plaintiffs sued, alleging First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment violations, and the governmental entities claimed "qualified immunity." Thankfully, the federal courts sided with Plaintiffs regarding Fourth Amendment accusations: the officers' actions were not supported by and plainly exceeded any administrative or inspective authority claimed by Defendants, and, in citing underage drinking and fire code violations as jusitications, the raid, arrests, and searches and seizures were objectively unreasonable and unsupported by even an inkling of probable cause. However, the court refused to find Defendants liable under First and Fourteenth Amendments, despite the officers' use of racial epithets during the raid. Though it's sad Defendants were allowed excuses for some of their actions, it's good to know their unacceptable behavior was sanctioned to a large extent. - LSW


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2. Band Member Injured at Gig
Highest Court Supreme Court of Kansas
Year Ended 2007
Plaintiffs Band Member(s)
Defendants Municipal Entity and/or Official(s)
Music Proprietor(s)
Other Ranch Hands
Short Description Plaintiff's musical group, The Ranch Hands, are a local band contracted by Defendants to perform at a New Year's Eve ball. While loading equipment, Plaintiff slipped on ice and fell, breaking some bones. The trial court found for Defendants on ordinary negligence claims, holding the "recreational use" immunity applied. While the appellate court reversed, the Kansas Supreme Court agreed with the lowest court. Only gross negligence claims, not immunized by the protective doctrine of "recreational use," will go to trial. - LSW


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3. Officers Hurt Stones Fan at Gig
Highest Court S.D. Ohio
Year Ended 2007
Plaintiffs Concert Attendee(s)
Defendants Business Entity of Artist(s)
Municipal Entity and/or Official(s)
Police Officer(s)
Other Rolling Stones
Short Description Concert-goer bought merchandise at concert, but was stopped by plainclothes officers intent on stopping bootleggers. After officers failed to identify themselves, Plaintiffs physically defended themselves and their goods. In trial, jury found for Plaintiffs, who then brought action against Rolling Stones as employers of the officers. Dismissed. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]


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4. Great White in Deep Shit
Highest Court D. Rhode Island
Year Ended 2006
Plaintiffs Concert Attendee(s)
Estate of Concert Attendee(s)
Defendants Anheuser-Busch
Clear Channel
Great White
Individual(s)
Insurer(s)
Multiple Corporation(s)
Municipal Entity and/or Official(s)
Music Manager(s)
Music Promoter(s)
Music Proprietor(s)
Radio Station(s)
Record Label(s)
Shell Oil
State Entity and/or Official(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description After Great White's pyrotechnics caught fire in an outrageously under-prepared venue in Rhode Island calledThe Station, over 100 deaths resulted, as well as several hundred injuries. No surprise then, it also resulted in about as many lawsuits. This entry covers a large swath of these suits, each of which addresses various parties and their roles in the horrific accident, including the band, their companies, state entities, the venue and others. While not everyone was liable, the venue was certainly subpar regarding building codes, and the band were a bunch of jack-asses (not necessarily legally). Lighting off fireworks in a club with less than 500 people. Seriously. Oughtta be ashamed. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]


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5. "The Man" vs. 2 Live Crew (IV)
Highest Court Fifth Circuit
Year Ended 2004
Plaintiffs 2 Live Crew
Concert Attendee(s)
Promoter(s)
Defendants County Entity and/or Official(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description Rap group members, individual concert-goers, and concert promoters sued a sheriff's department for violation of First, Fourth, and Fourteenth amendment rights when the sheriffs set up road blocks and checkpoints outside of a concert planned in Mississippi. The court granted qualified immunity to the sheriffs on some, but not all of the constitutional claims. While several opening acts are reported to have performed, 2 Live Crew did not perform at the Mississippi concert. - SKR


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6. Injury at STP Show in Illinois
Highest Court Court of Claims of Illinois
Year Ended 2003
Plaintiffs Concert Attendee(s)
Defendants Music Promoter(s)
Police Officer(s)
State Entity and/or Official(s)
Other Stone Temple Pilots
Short Description Stone Temple Pilots fans sued the State of Illinois and a music promoter for injuries sustained at a concert held on state fairgrounds, allegedly inflicted by moshing, crowd surfing, and other common activities at grunge gigs. Plaintiffs' claims against the promoter (JAM) had been previously dismissed, so the remaining issue was whether Illinois owed duties to prevent such actitivies, to protect audience members from them, and to provide "adequate security." Plaintiffs were unable to show thjat the state owed "law enforcement duties" to do so, and the court similarly held that premises liability accusations failed. Though the law imposed a duty on Plaintiffs to warn and protect the audience from raucous crowd behavior it reasonably knew would occur, the audience was already invariably aware of it as well, and no evidence showed Defendants anticipated or responded negligently. There was no way Defendants could have predicted the enormity of the crowd and the intensity of its reaction. Though, perhaps, Defendants might be expected to be better prepared at future concerts, they can't be said to have been negligent here. Further, under a comparative negligence rubric, Plaintiffs failed to claim, much less prove, that they hadn't also anticipated the apparently inevitable danger flannel-clad crowds presented. Plaintiffs were at least as negligent as Defendants, if Defendants were negligent at all. - LSW


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7. Police at Fault for Concert Trampling?
Highest Court New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division
Year Ended 1999
Plaintiffs Concert Attendee(s)
Defendants Combs, Sean
Educational Institution(s)
Municipal Entity and/or Official(s)
Police Officer(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description In 1991, before Sean "Puff Daddy"/"Puffy"/"P. Ditty" Combs was the uber famous rapper, producer, and mogul he is today, he hosted a celebrity basketball game at the City College of New York, co-coaching the two teams with Heavy D, which resulted in an idiotic stampede amongst the attendees that killed nine people and injured others. Apparently, the stampede resulted when fans tried to rush into the event, which might have been oversold or inadequately staffed. Puffy and Heavy were held liable, though this case only dealt with the liability of the State of New York and the police department, who were present at the event, which was held on State-owned property. The court held the state and municipal entities were shielded from liability under governmental immunity; to hold them liable, Plaintiffs would need to show the government assumed responsiblity for planning, security, or management of the event. This was not shown. They were acting in their usual capacity at the time. For the resulting insurance coverage dispute, see "Puff and D's Stampede Insurance." - LSW


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8. Trouble at B.B.'s Restaurant
Highest Court W.D. Tennessee
Year Ended 1999
Plaintiffs Individual(s)
Defendants B.B. King's Blues Club
Municipal Entity and/or Official(s)
Police Officer(s)
Other King, B.B.
Short Description At B.B. King's restaurant in Memphis, TN, a customer was asked to leave and refused. During altercation with guards, customer was accidentally asphyxiated, and family sued. Defendants' motions for summary judgment dismissed. - [This entry is not yet complete or has not been edited/checked.]


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9. Deaths at Who Show Prompt Suits
Highest Court Court of Appeals of Ohio
Year Ended 1983
Plaintiffs Estate of Concert Attendee(s)
Defendants City Entity and/or Official(s)
Individual(s)
Music Manager(s)
Music Promoter(s)
Music Proprietor(s)
Who
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description In 1979, The Who performed in at the Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati, OH, and, as attendees were trying to enter the building, eleven people were trampled to death and numerous others were injured. A slew of lawsuits were brought against The Who, their associated entities, the Coliseum, and various other parties involved in the promotion and security of the event, including city entities. Though 32 other cases were settled for $2.1 million (see Rolling Stone, Oct. 13, 1983, at page 73), this consolidated case, which involved several of the deaths and injuries, continued forward. In this opinion, the court held that the city was not protected from negligence liability by "municipal immunity," citing the Supreme Court maxim that "the rule is liability-the exception is immunity," though Plaintiffs' nuisance and civil rights claims failed as a matter of law. The court also reversed a lower decision exonerating the venue's directors and officers, finding that previously known safety issues may have put them on notice, and their dismissal from the case was inappropriate on summary judgment. Corporate officers may be found liable to third parties when the corporation itself owed a duty to those parties, the corporate officer was delegated the duty, and the officer breached. Responding to Plaintiffs' request for punitive damages, the court held that The Who themselves, their managers and promoters, the venue, and other related parties could not defeat the request summarily either, as recklessness and wantonness are facts for the jury to decide. - LSW


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10. Sideman's Workers' Comp Claim
Highest Court Court of Appeals of Michigan
Year Ended 1981
Plaintiffs Back-Up Musician(s)
Defendants Educational Institution(s)
Other Herman, Woody
Short Description Plaintiff was a member of Woody Herman's orchestra who sustained injuries while performing at Defendant's campus in Allendale, Michigan, while there for a musicians' workshop. Plaintiff initially filed for workers' compenstation, listing Herman as his "statutory employer," but Herman was uninsured in the state and unable to pay. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed a suit against Defendant in federal court, which was dismissed, followed by a state suit against the same party. When the state's employment board found Defendant liable to Plaintiff for workers' compensation--not as his literal employer, but only as his "statutory employer" via their principal-agent relationship--Defendant sought to dismiss the lawsuit, alleging the workers' comp claim was Plaintiff's "exclusive remedy." Plaintiff pointed out that employees (in the literal, not merely statutory sense) had two causes of action against their employers, both in workers comp and tort, and that differential treatment for parties like Plaintiff was either 1) unintended by the statute or 2) in violation of constitutional principles. The court disagreed, and granted Defendant's motion for an accelerated judgment in their favor if the employment board's decision is upheld on appeal. - LSW


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11. Smokey Arrested By Mistake
Highest Court California Court of Appeal
Year Ended 1974
Plaintiffs Robinson, Smokey
Defendants Municipal Entity and/or Official(s)
Police Officer(s)
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description In 1967, an individual rented a limousine for three days, impersonating Smokey Robinson. The limo owner filed a complaint, and Robinson sued the city and police department after he was arrested at a San Francisco nightclub. Officers arrested him despite his attempts to show them he was not the individual on the warrant, and that they just shared aliases. The police officer made no effort to figure out if Robinson was actually Robinson. At trial, Robinson was found not guilty. A police officer has immunity for false arrest if the arrest was without malice and in reasonable belief that the person arrested is the person in the warrant. Robinson argued that the jury could have questioned the reasonableness of the officer's actions. The Appellate Court reversed the summary judgment for the police officer because a jury could decide whether the officer's was unreasonable in not allowing Robinson to prove his identity at the arrest. - JMC


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