Back in July 2011, this blog discussed a tragic event at the West Virginia All Good Music Festival, where three young women from South Carolina were killed in their tent by a pickup truck. The All Good Music Festival, set in Marvin’s Mountaintop, West Virginia, was an annual event attended by 30,000 people. The event’s organizers were blamed for poor security and planning for an event of this scope. The families of the women sued, and the festival was moved — for one summer, at least — to Ohio.
Since then, the music festival’s troubles have not ended. Recently, Daniel Weaver hired a West Virginia personal injury attorney and filed a lawsuit against the festival’s organizers for injuries he received in July 2010. Weaver had removed his clothes and run through the festival grounds, only to be chased down by festival security officials. The chase went through the woods, where Weaver then leapt into a swampy area. There, festival security officials found him lying down, and allegedly “forcibly raised” Weaver to his feet. Weaver was then allegedly carried by his arms and legs to a central location. He claims that along the way, festival security officials deliberately dropped him on the ground at least once. Weaver was already experiencing pain when they found him in the swamp area, and claims to have informed them of his injuries at the scene.
Weaver alleges that All Good Music Festival’s security team was improperly trained and overreacted by chasing Weaver through the woods, despite the fact that Weaver was not a threat. He also faults the security officials for not determining if he was injured before attempting to transport him, and by failing to transport him properly.
As was the case with the women’s families, Weaver could assert premises liability, suggesting that the festival’s organizers did not warn or make safe all dangers on the property that were known, or that the festival’s organizers should have known about. Therefore, an “invitee” like Weaver sustained injuries leaping into a swampy area.
However, it appears that Weaver has chosen instead to focus on the security officials’ behavior. Weaver may succeed in proving that the officials’ behavior was negligent. The only question would be how much their negligence contributed to his injuries overall. West Virginia follows “modified comparative negligence” or “modified comparative fault.” Whereas some states have pure comparative fault, where a plaintiff can recover even if he is mostly responsible for his own injuries, West Virginia will not permit a plaintiff to recover if he or she is 50% or more at fault.
The All Good Music Festival security officials might argue that Weaver’s own behavior was primarily the cause of his injuries. Among the arguments they might raise are the following: he chose to act in a way that was inappropriate and resisted officials’ efforts to get him to comply. He also chose to run into the woods and leap into a swampy area containing unknown matter. Had Weaver not done this, Weaver would never have been injured in the first place. Even if the security officials were guilty of negligence, they were not guilty of more than 50% negligence, and therefore Weaver should not be permitted to collect a money award from them. It will be up to a jury to determine if these arguments really hold weight.
We at the Wolfe Law Firm know that concepts like negligence can be complex for people who do not practice law. That is why if you are seriously injured in an accident, you should not hesitate to hire the most experienced attorney around.