Saturday, August 13, 2005


The death of a fan trampled during a Limp Bizkit gig in Sydney continues to hang around Fred Durst; the band's insurance company is now suing the band to avoid having to pay the group's legal fees incurred during the wrongful death claims brought by Jessica Michalik's parents:

The insurer said in its lawsuit, which was filed on Thursday, that Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst incited the audience at the festival to rush the stage. United National also claims the concert was not covered by a liability binder it issued for the band in 2000.

Michalik "was either crushed or trampled to death as the crowd, allegedly incited by Fred Durst's comments, surged toward the stage where Limp Bizkit was performing," the lawsuit said.

The band did successfully get the claims against them quashed by a New South Wales court (apparently the claims against the other defendents, including the promoters, were settled during the last month). At the inquest - which Durst only agreed to attend via a videolink, claiming he was too "busy" to fly out to Australia - the coroner wasn't that impressed with Durst and the Bizkits, and the attempts that had been made to spin them out of the situation:

It was evidenced that the Press Release issued by the BDO on 27 January 2001, on behalf of both themselves and Limp Bizkit stated that, “Several times during their performance Limp Bizkit urged the audience to step back and assist fellow concert-goers in need of assistance, and promoters compliment the band’s diligence in this. The organizers of the event would like to acknowledge the full co-operation of Limp Bizkit through this difficult situation and their commitment to the safety of their audience.” When questioned during the Inquest, Mr. Lees stated that “I think what I was trying to do was put a positive read on the very difficult situation that we were within and the need for us to be able to maintain a working relationship with Limp Bizkit”. When asked further by the Coroner if the statement was true or not he responded “At the moment I would be remiss in saying that that paragraph was true, yes.”

While the promoters were found to be at fault for failing to take account of ther sort of audience and act they were creating having Limp Bizkit on the bill, and for failing to introduce the basics of good crowd safety measures such as a 'voice of god' microphone to allow direct communication with the crowd. However, the coroner also was less-than-impressed with Durst's decision to use a serious safety issue as a chance to settle scores:

Mr. Durst also came in for additional criticism for the band’s actions during the rescue attempts at the Sydney event commenting that his statements (made over the PA) were “alarming and inflammatory. You can see that by the way the crowd reacted”. Ms. Milledge added that it was “an unrealistic notion to think that Mr. Durst should be ‘monitoring’ the mood and behaviour of the crowd, his brief is clear….to entertain’. However it was iterated further that the performance cessation protocol had triggered and that Mr. Dursts’ comments were found “inflammatory and insulting to the security personnel who were engaged in their best efforts to extricate crucially injured patrons from the crowd collapse.” And that “Mr. Durst took advantage of a terrible situation to air his contempt for the promoters and security. Yet there were moments when he sensibly urged them to look after one another and pick each other up”.

While Durst may have been found in court to not have been responsible for the death, the insurance company seems to be suggesting that his unhelpful behaviour left himself open to the lawsuit in the first place. It might just be enough to get them off the hook.

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