Author Topic: SAFETY: 'Billy Elliot' musical sued for $4 million  (Read 4421 times)

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planetmike

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SAFETY: 'Billy Elliot' musical sued for $4 million
« on: Feb 15, 2011, 03:35 pm »
From the Associated Press, published in the Washington Examiner, two patrons were injured by a prop during a performance of Billy Elliot.
Quote
The lawsuit filed Monday accuses producers of "negligence and carelessness" for "hazardous and dangerous" props and choreography, failing to train employees of the show and for not warning patrons of the risks.
- http://washingtonexaminer.com/entertainment/2011/02/billy-elliot-musical-sued-4-million-0

And this is why we have to watch our cast and crew members when they are handling stuff. Scene change is one thing, but people drop stuff all the time. Hopefully not on stage during a scene, but things happen. As for warning patrons of the risks, I'd guess their ticket has some kind of warning printed on it in small print.

Edit to subject line-Rebbe
« Last Edit: Mar 01, 2011, 05:11 pm by Rebbe »

Dee

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Re: 'Billy Elliot' musical sued for $4 million
« Reply #1 on: Feb 15, 2011, 03:44 pm »
I would love to know the back story on this.  What in the world could have happene to have cause a $4 million dollar lawsuit!

On_Headset

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Re: 'Billy Elliot' musical sued for $4 million
« Reply #2 on: Feb 15, 2011, 04:11 pm »
The 4 million dollars is meant to be punitive, not proportionate. It actually makes a good deal of sense as a legal principle. (Disclaimer: not a lawyer, just have an interest in this stuff. Ask me about the famous McDonalds hot coffee lady sometime!)

Let's say you get injured while riding a rollercoaster, and the amusement park is definitely liable. You have $15 000 in medical bills, $20 000 in lost wages due to medical treatment and convalescence, and you expect to spend $5000 on the lawsuit. So you sue for $40 000, right?

Okay, fine--but the amusement park is earning more than a million a week in profit. Your $40 000 award will barely make a dent in that $50 000 000+ annual take. When courts award punitive damages, they're saying that the defendant needs to feel the full force and impact of the lawsuit: the judgment isn't meant to be a slap on the wrist, it's meant to be a serious charge of major wrongdoing which must not ignored. Beefing up the award has been a good way of sending that message. We might also consider that, in these situations, it is likely that other people were also exposed to potential injury: you just had the misfortune of being the one actually injured. In this case, the problem isn't the injury itself: the problem is the carelessness on the part of the defendant which led to your injury, and may have led to others. As such, those potential injuries get rolled into your lawsuit, since identifying every potential victim and including them in the mix would be an onerous and in many cases impossible process.

That's where you get 4 million in damages base on $40 000 in actual injuries. It's about sending a message, not necessarily about the actual damages.

MatthewShiner

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Re: 'Billy Elliot' musical sued for $4 million
« Reply #3 on: Feb 15, 2011, 04:46 pm »
Quote
And this is why we have to watch our cast and crew members when they are handling stuff.

Seriously, there comes a time when you are working on size and scope of shows where you just can't watch everyone all the time unless the SM/Cast and crew ratios is 1:1 - and even then - I just can't imagine a SM team of let's say 120 people to do an opera.  The level of complicity on Broadway, Cirque, etc . . . are just complicated.  And things happen.

Just think about the show you are working on now (or the last show you worked on).  What chain of three events (just three) could have lead to something or someone ending up in the front row?  I am not sure you can ever anticipate the chain of events that would lead to ever possibilities - but you can make your best effort.

In my current show, we have a Vepsa an actor rides downstage and stops.  Every night pre-show he tests the Vespa.  But, he could, get on stage, and lose control of the Vespa or the brakes could fail, or the battery could surge or WHATEVER - but we are doing our best effort given standard theatrical safety practices.

If I wanted to create a 100% safe theatrical experience, then I would recommend everyone stay at home.  People get hurt ordering a pretzel.  And they sue.

If you read the article, it's pretty vague on the details - but apparently it was a plastic crate (this is form the Post - apologies for sending you to the post for news http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/ouch_show_smash_hit_UZN4qsZleOQq3t9b15QpKP)

The insurance will take care of it, drive up the cost of insurance for theatrical shows, driving up the profit margin . . . making this shows more expensive to produce - giving the producers more to complain about . . . sigh. 

I am sorry people got hurt (and the Post's description is pretty serious - but again it's the Post), I doubt it was a four million dollars worth of injuries - but if they feel like this BILLY ELLIOTT is causing enough injuries to people everywhere, and a message needs to be sent - then so be it.





« Last Edit: Feb 15, 2011, 04:55 pm by MatthewShiner »
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loebtmc

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Re: 'Billy Elliot' musical sued for $4 million
« Reply #4 on: Feb 15, 2011, 09:36 pm »
It's just, well, how many shows did it take for this to happen? One show in how many thousands? To my eye, this is more of an Act of God than negligence, or it would have happened more often -

nmno

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Re: 'Billy Elliot' musical sued for $4 million
« Reply #5 on: Feb 16, 2011, 02:28 am »
(Message deleted by me due to clearly lacking information!)
« Last Edit: Feb 16, 2011, 09:23 am by nmno »

On_Headset

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Re: 'Billy Elliot' musical sued for $4 million
« Reply #6 on: Feb 16, 2011, 05:19 am »
Having worked on Billy Elliot, I'm spooling thru the show in my head, and I'm guessing that they were hit by nerf balls that shoot out of a cannon...  (That's the ONLY think I can think of that gets anywhere NEAR the audience).  But still, being hit by a nerf ball = 2 mil$???  Unless on of the Billy's dropped the chair and it fell into the house?   I'd be curious to hear more.
Both of the audience members had to go to the hospital, one required stitches to close a bleeding gash on her forehead, the other had a concussion with possible brain damage. This is a little more serious than nerf balls.

nmno

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Re: 'Billy Elliot' musical sued for $4 million
« Reply #7 on: Feb 16, 2011, 09:36 am »
Having worked on Billy Elliot, I'm spooling thru the show in my head, and I'm guessing that they were hit by nerf balls that shoot out of a cannon...  (That's the ONLY think I can think of that gets anywhere NEAR the audience).  But still, being hit by a nerf ball = 2 mil$???  Unless on of the Billy's dropped the chair and it fell into the house?   I'd be curious to hear more.
Both of the audience members had to go to the hospital, one required stitches to close a bleeding gash on her forehead, the other had a concussion with possible brain damage. This is a little more serious than nerf balls.
Only saw the Washington Examiner link, which wasn't specific.  From the Wash Post article, I can picture what happened... I'm going to gently step out of this conversation however...

KMC

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Re: 'Billy Elliot' musical sued for $4 million
« Reply #8 on: Feb 16, 2011, 02:11 pm »
Having worked on Billy Elliot, I'm spooling thru the show in my head, and I'm guessing that they were hit by nerf balls that shoot out of a cannon...  (That's the ONLY think I can think of that gets anywhere NEAR the audience).  But still, being hit by a nerf ball = 2 mil$???  Unless on of the Billy's dropped the chair and it fell into the house?   I'd be curious to hear more.
Both of the audience members had to go to the hospital, one required stitches to close a bleeding gash on her forehead, the other had a concussion with possible brain damage. This is a little more serious than nerf balls.

This incident occured 15 months ago.  If the plaintifs were wronged to the tune of $4 million this lawsuit would have come long ago.  This one doesn't pass the smell test and in my view is another testament to why we are in desperate need of tort reform in this country.
Get action. Do things; be sane; donít fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

On_Headset

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Re: 'Billy Elliot' musical sued for $4 million
« Reply #9 on: Feb 16, 2011, 03:02 pm »
When you pursue punitive damages, you aren't arguing you've actually been injured in that amount. You're arguing instead that a message needs to be sent, and that the best way to send this message involves punitive damages.

KMC

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Re: 'Billy Elliot' musical sued for $4 million
« Reply #10 on: Feb 16, 2011, 03:37 pm »
Yes, but the plaintiff still receives all or some of the sum of the punitive damages.  In this case $2m each.  Define it however you wish, it still doesn't pass the smell test.
Get action. Do things; be sane; donít fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

 

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