Protect Ya Neck, But Don’t Sue the Band
If you can't handle the mosh don't stand in the front row.
News broke this week that a 46-year-old woman from Pennsylvania was awarded . . . wait for it . . . $1.4 MILLION due to an injury she sustained when Fishbone frontman extraordinaire Angelo Moore leapt from the stage, somewhere within her vicinity, at Philadelphia’s World Café Live back in 2010. Apparently, Kimberly Myers, the “victim,” was unaware Fishbone was on the WXPN Philadelphia sponsored gig and “suffered” roughly $16,000 worth of injuries due to the incident. So how in the world did homegirl cash herself a $1.4M check?
Have you ever gone to a concert not knowing who was on the bill? I know I haven’t. Sheesh – tickets are expensive these days, and I want to know what I’m getting myself into. Sure, there’s the occasional festival, with so many acts scheduled to perform, you couldn’t possibly know all of them, but to walk into a venue where the almost three-decade strong, infamous, genre-twisting spectacle that is Fishbone is actually co-headlining along with the English Beat, and NOT KNOW . . . I call bullshit, and don’t believe it for a second.
Now, in an effort to give Ms. Myers the benefit of the doubt, it’s not her fault that Angelo flipped on top of her fragile dome – something he’s been doing for nearly ¾ of her lifetime without much drama. However, she’s nothing short of dopey for being ignorant to the situation she entered into.
If I were to take my five-year-old daughter to an NFL game, I am sure she will be subject to shit tons of unbridled, drunken belligerent behavior that I wouldn’t be able to do much about. The solution – we don’t go, and watch from the safety of our couch. Do the knowledge, and make a responsible decision. If I were so inclined to take a late-night stroll in NYC, and was unfamiliar with the territory, I’d be a fool to take my chances, and possibly wind up on the corner of sketch and sketch, wouldn’t I? Same goes if I purchased a ticket to a show, or was given one for free, I’d want to know what the fuck I was going to see, and what the atmosphere might be like.
What goes on in a club temporarily occupied by Fishbone is well documented, and much like punk rock, or hardcore, or many metal shows – if you want to avoid some of the crowd activity, you steer clear of the front rows. Shit goes on down there, and it’s perfectly understandable that it is not for everyone. However, to not know what’s happening up there is naïve at best and nearly impossible.
Let’s be clear. No one is happy Kimberly Myers was injured, or enjoys when that happens to anyone when they’re out for a night of fun and escape from the daily grind. In fact, I’m not sure anyone could even bitch if she had simply looked to become whole with regard to her “actual” medical expenses ($15,846), although, again, she should have known better than to be so close to the stage with Fishbone up in that motherfucker. Myers actually settled with the band after filing an initial lawsuit shortly after the incident for an undisclosed sum, and that should have been that.
But Ms. Greedypants came back at them with a second suit in 2012, primarily directed at Angelo Moore for negligence, and because Angelo did not respond to the complaint (from what I know – Angelo barely has a permanent home or address), this frivolous lawsuit-loving judge, Jan DuBois, entered a default judgment for the plaintiff and set the stage for a hearing to determine “appropriate” damages, at which Angelo Moore did testify that he doesn’t give audience members any warning prior to stage diving, because “that gives away the whole…theatrics or the spontaneity.” He also refused to acknowledge predator DuBois’ question as to whether or not he’d been on drugs at the time of the incident. As if that matters.
So what did those damages look like? On top of the immediate medical expenses incurred, Ms. Myers estimated that her future medical costs would run up to $351,299. Judge DuBois awarded it. Estimated future musical costs??? For what??? I’m going to estimate some for my damn self, right now! The judge also said that Myers was entitled to damages for future pain and suffering, any possible embarrassment, humiliation, and loss of the ability to enjoy the pleasures of life and disfigurement. So this is in case her co-workers razz her for getting knocked on her ass at the Fishbone show? So embarrassing, right? This decision added another $750,000 to the tab.
Finally, Judge DuBois stated that punitive damages should be assessed solely against the band’s lead singer, noting Moore’s refusal to answer questions relating to his drug use, and his additional acknowledgement of the risks stage diving posed to audience members. “Further, Moore exhibits little remorse or impetus to change his conduct,” the judge said, adding another $250,000 to the bill.
Total REAL cost to Kimberly Myers? Should have been zero, but okay – give her $15K-plus for her hospital stay. Total cost to Angelo Moore and Fishbone? ONE POINT FOUR MILLION DOLLARS, and possibly their careers; not to mention the blow to a culture that has fought to survive against REAL obstacles since the punk movement began to hit its stride. Okay – Fishbone isn’t punk in the sense that the Ramones or the Pistols were punk, but their attitude, spirit, and soul surely are. Before our very eyes, the efforts of the fun-police has led to having to appear in fun-court, and have your livelihood ripped away from you, because some dunce made a bad personal choice, and wound up with a headache. Watch your backs y’all. BIG FUN IS WATCHING! #FREEFISHBONE #FREEANGELOMOORE
A statement from Fishbone posted on their social media outlets:
“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 1970’s. 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.”
– Angelo Moore, John Norwood Fisher and the members of Fishbone.