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Radiohead stage collapse trial to start over, Live Nation will likely seek dismissal

By | Published on Tuesday 20 June 2017

Live Nation

The long running court case in Canada considering the liabilities of companies involved in the 2012 Radiohead concert in Toronto, where British drum tech Scott Johnson was killed after staging collapsed, will have to start from scratch once again after the judge overseeing it was promoted to another court.

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 in 2015, but hopes of a speedy resolution were not met, and the proceedings dragged through 2016 too, with the hope that a judgement might be reached in early 2017. That didn’t happen and now the judge who has been overseeing the proceedings, Shaun Nakatsuru, has been appointed to the Ontario Superior Court, meaning that he no longer has jurisdiction over the case. To that end a mistrial has now been declared, and a new trial will need to take place.

Nakatsuru confirmed this in a statement earlier this month stating that: “It is with great regret that I have come to this decision. A lot of effort and resources have gone into this trial. We had nearly completed it. My [new] appointment was unexpected and without notice. I know that the defendants have waited a long time for the final resolution of this case. So has the public. There are many compelling reasons why it would be in the best interests of justice for me to finish this. But I cannot”.

The mistrial might not just result in another delay for Johnson’s family, who are desperate for closure on this matter. According to CBC, one of the lawyers working for the defence has said his clients will now seek to have the whole case dismissed on the basis of unreasonable court delays.

Live Nation has already attempted to have the case dismissed on those grounds once before, citing a relatively new precedent in Canadian law over unreasonably long court battles. Nakatsuru knocked back that request, arguing that this was a complex criminal case, and therefore the fact the legal proceedings were slow-going was excusable.

As previously reported, Johnson’s father Ken criticised those previous attempts to have the case dismissed, telling the Toronto Star that “without the trial being completed, nothing will have been learned”. Adding that he thought the live music giant was damaging its reputation by trying to employ legal technicalities to circumvent the trial, he said that Live Nation should just “get on with it” and “present their defence”.

Live Nation’s latest request for dismissal should be considered in August. If unsuccessful, the new trial is scheduled to being in September.