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Gwen Stefani still faces injured fan lawsuit, but Live Nation is off the hook

By | Published on Thursday 20 December 2018

Gwen Stefani

Live Nation has successfully removed itself as a defendant in litigation relating to injuries incurred by a fan at a Gwen Stefani show in North Carolina in 2016. However, the case against Stefani herself will continue.

Concert-goer Lisa Stricklin sued both Stefani and Live Nation last year. She is seeking damages for leg injuries which occurred after Stefani called on audience members to come forward and fill empty seats during the 2016 concert at the outdoor PNC Music Pavilion venue in Charlotte.

Stricklin, who was sitting in reserved seats at the show, says that she was injured after fans responded to Stefani’s call to move forward, pushing through barriers and trampling her. The injuries were the result of negligence on the part of the singer and Live Nation, Stricklin argued, while asking for more than $5 million in damages.

Both defendants tried to have the case dismissed earlier this year, but for different reasons. Stefani argued that her call for fans to move forward was protected under free speech rights in America’s First Amendment. Meanwhile, Live Nation said that it should never have been included in the lawsuit in the first place because it could not have anticipated that Stefani would tell people to move to the front of the venue.

In her arguments requesting that the case be dismissed, Stefani also claimed that she could not have known that her instruction would place any concertgoers in danger. Her lawyers also cited a previous case against Ozzy Osbourne, in which a couple claimed that his music contributed to the suicide of their son. That case was dismissed after it was ruled that Osbourne could not be held liable for his speech.

Judge Robert Conrad has rejected both those arguments in this case. He states that it was foreseeable that, by initiating a mass movement of people, someone could get hurt. Meanwhile, the Osborne case was not relevant, he said, because it “involved substantive lyrics – not concert directions”.

To that end, he concluded, there were no grounds to dismiss the case against the singer by summary judgement, and instead both sides’ arguments should go before a jury.

However, the judge did accept Live Nation’s reasons for having them removed from the case, concluding that the live music firm “did not owe plaintiff a duty to protect her from the crowd and her resulting injury because Stefani’s actions were unforeseeable”.

The case – without Live Nation’s involvement – is now due to return to court next February.