After a summer music festival in West Virginia turned tragic, a South Carolina man filed a lawsuit in federal court against the festival’s organizer, Maryland-based Walther Productions, and others. The man’s daughter, 20 year-old Nicole Miller, was killed while sleeping in a tent at the festival when a pickup truck rolled down a steep hill and crashed into her tent. Two friends with her suffered serious injuries. The two survivors, Yon Ten and Elizabeth Doran, each filed very similar lawsuits.
The lawsuit filed by Miller’s father names twelve defendants, including Walther, Virginia-based security provider Event Staffing, Inc., the owners of the festival venue, and the driver of the pickup truck. The suits claim that the defendants were negligent in failing to take “reasonable care” to prevent the accident that caused Miller’s death and Ten’s and Doran’s injuries. Miller’s suit also requests punitive damages.
The accident happened at the All Good Music Festival in Masontown, West Virginia on July 17, 2011. The driver of the pickup truck had parked at the top of a hill and allegedly lost control of the vehicle, causing it to roll down the hill and into a campsite. Conditions at the festival were allegedly muddy, and the plaintiffs contend that festival organizers and vendors knew or should have known of the danger of parking vehicles uphill from concert attendees because of the lack of traction in the mud.
Walther filed a response last week denying liability, as well as a cross-claim against several co-defendants. Walther asks to be dismissed from the lawsuit and argues that Event Staffing should be held liable for the accident, as it had direct responsibility for controlling dangerous situations, including parking. Event Staffing also asks for dismissal, and argues that Walther should contribute to any damage awards the court may impose on it. Other defendants have not yet answered the suit.
The lawsuits rely primarily on the theory of premises liability, which holds that a person or business that owns or manages property, including a store, office, home, or raw land, is liable for foreseeable injuries that occur to people on the property. The extent of responsibility to prevent injury and warn of dangers varies depending on how the injured person came to be on the property. A trespasser, for example, gets less consideration than someone who enters the property with permission. Since the plaintiffs came onto the property for a music festival, they are considered “invitees” and are entitled to the highest level of protection under the law, meaning that the festival organizers and property owners have a duty to prevent any and all reasonably foreseeable dangers. The questions that remain, therefore, are who bears the primary responsibility for preventing such dangers, and whether the danger that caused the accident was reasonably foreseeable.
A person injured because of dangerous conditions on a piece of property may be entitled to compensation from the owner or manager of that property. If you have been injured in such an incident, contact the Maryland personal injury lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen to discuss your case today.
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Maryland Fire Deaths of Two Frostburg State University Students Caused by Overheated Pipe, Maryland Accident Law Blog, December 7, 2010