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Live Nation fails to have fatal stage collapse case dismissed

By | Published on Monday 31 October 2016

Live Nation

A judge in Ontario last week rejected efforts by Live Nation to dismiss the criminal action that followed the death of drum tech Scott Johnson, who died when staging collapsed ahead of a Radiohead show in Toronto in 2012.

As previously reported, Johnson was killed and three others injured after a scaffolding structure collapsed onto the open-air stage on which Radiohead were due to perform. The show was promoted by Live Nation and the live music giant was subsequently charged under Ontario’s Occupational Health And Safety Act. Optex Staging & Services Inc was also charged over four alleged breaches of health and safety laws, while an engineer working on the show, Domenic Cugliari, received one charge.

The criminal case arrived in court last year, but hopes of a speedy resolution were not met, and further hearings have taken place at various points this year. It’s thought a verdict could now follow next January, but Live Nation and Cugliari recently requested that the case be dismissed because of the “unreasonable delay”. They made the claim based on a recent precedent in Canadian law over unreasonably long court battles.

Judge Shaun Nakatsuru last week rejected the call for dismissal, arguing that the case against Live Nation and Cugliari was complex, with expert witnesses and technical reports required to inform the proceedings, and with that in mind the fact the criminal case had been slow-going was excusable.

Johnson’s family back in the UK had criticised Live Nation’s bid to end the case without a proper conclusion, and his father, Ken, who travelled to last week’s hearing welcomed Nakatsuru’s conclusion. He told the Toronto Star that “without the trial being completed, nothing would have been learned”, adding that “I would really like to speak with Live Nation and tell them to get on with it. I think they’re starting to damage their reputation … Now there’s an opportunity for Live Nation and Mr Cugliari to present their defence”.

The trial is now set to resume in early December.