News / Ottawa

Ottawa Bluesfest executive director reacts to $1 million lawsuit

Faced with a $1 million lawsuit from rock band Cheap Trick over a mid-performance stage collapse at Bluesfest in 2011, the festival's executive director is pointing to a 2012 Ministry of Labour report which concluded no one was to blame for the incident.

RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest chief Mark Monahan said he found out his company is being sued by reading media reports and said he hasn't seen the band's statement of claim.

The last day of the 2011 festival took a turn for the worse when a sudden wind storm swept through the festival site and knocked down the MBNA stage on which the rock quartet was performing. Several people were injured.

“All I can say is there was a fairly extensive Ministry of Labour investigation regarding the incident and that is available in terms on the public record and it assessed everything that went on that day and subsequently," Monahan said.

After probing the incident, the ministry found there were no grounds to lay charges, according to a July 2012 report. It blamed severe weather for the stage collapse and found no structural issues with the stage.

The statement of claim by Cheap Trick Touring Inc. was filed July 4, the opening day of this year’s RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest. The band's touring company is seeking $400,000 for the repair and replacement of their damaged equipment, including guitars and amplifiers.

They are also seeking $600,000 for special damages, which includes interim replacement, labour, and travel expenses. None of the allegations in the statement of claim have been proven in court.

Groupe Berger International, Mega State International, Project X productions Inc., and two Bluesfest contractors are also listed as defendants.

The statement of claim alleges that Bluesfest breached its contract with the band by failing to provide a stage that is “absolutely level, solid, and secure” at all times.

The band’s touring company also accuses Bluesfest and its site technical director for, “favouring economic considerations over the safety of Cheap Trick Touring.”

When asked to comment on the allegation, Monahan said the ministry report is a "definitive statement or report on what happened."

“It’s not for me to argue on different aspects of it. The report concluded it was a weather event, there were no charges to lay blame or finding people at fault," he said.

Monahan added that he has had no contact with Cheap Trick in the past year.

Sandy Sanderson, a roadie for Cheap Trick at the 2011 event, also launched a $100,000 lawsuit against Bluesfest on May 28 of this year. He is seeking damages for injuries he sustained after a stage fixture struck him during the stage collapse on July 17, 2011.

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