Back in July, we discussed the tragedy at the All Good Music Festival, an annual event in Marvin’s Mountaintop, West Virginia. During this year’s summer festival, a pickup-truck driver lost control and drove into a tent, killing one woman and injuring two others. The tragic event and the circumstances that followed led the festival’s promoter, Walther Productions, to move next year’s festival to Legend Valley, Ohio.
Following the accident, the women and their families sued Walther Productions and several vendors — including the company in charge of security — for “wanton, reckless, grossly negligent acts.” Without confessing anything, Walther Productions acknowledged that there were “challenges and frustrations” in getting 12,000 fans into and out of the campground year after year. Walther Productions sought to have the lawsuits dismissed in federal court, and also filed a cross complaint that accused the festival’s security company of negligence. All civil suits are expected to move forward in early 2012, and there may be criminal proceedings yet to come. The Preston County sheriff announced that the West Virginia State Police has just concluded an accident reconstruction report.
So far, the festival is expected to stay in Ohio for just one year. It remains to be seen whether Walther Productions will decide to keep it there permanently. That would be unfortunate, since the All Good Music Festival has become a popular attraction in West Virginia. There has been no word as to whether the women and their families would sue the truck driver who caused the accident.
The lawsuits against Walther Productions are likely based in the premises liability theory. That theory holds that property owners have a legal responsibility to prevent visitors to the property from being injured. When the property is opened for use by the public, these people are known as “invitees.” Owners owe the highest duty of care to invitees: a duty to warn about hazards on the land that the owner knows about or should know about. Failure to warn or use reasonable care to make the property safe is grounds for a negligence claim.
Here, the women might claim that Walther Productions knew that the fair grounds had dangers, such as conditions that caused cars to sometimes veer off of established roadways, but failed to warn invitees. The women might also claim that Walther Productions breached its duty to make the fair grounds reasonably safe, such as widening the road or posting more signs, or by arranging to have more security present to prevent intoxicated people from driving.
Although the All Good Music Festival tragedy was a fairly significant example of premises liability, there are smaller violations that happen every day. Most premises liability accidents involve slips and falls. These seemingly minor accidents can cause injuries and lingering ailments — which is why, if you or your loved one gets injured at another person’s residence, you should look into hiring a West Virginia premises liability lawyer and suing for negligence. We at the Wolfe Law Firm know that the sooner you act, the sooner you can investigate what went wrong, and the sooner you can possibly get relief.