By Erik Maza
The Baltimore Sun
11:40 AM EST, November 29, 2011
After a fatal accident in July at the All Good Festival in West Virginia, Walther Productions, the festival's Maryland-based promoter, has moved the jam band music festival to Ohio, the company has said.
The accident, which left a 20-year-old woman dead and two others injured, has resulted in three lawsuits, as first reported by The Baltimore Sun, accusing the company, as well as several of the festival's vendors, like a security company, of negligence.
Earlier this month, Walther Productions moved to dismiss the lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Clarksburg, West Virginia. It also filed a cross-claim against the festival's security company, Event Staffing, Inc., charging the independent contractor with negligence.
Walther Productions announced last week the festival would move to Legend Valley in Ohio for its 16th edition, from July 19-22.
Without addressing the accident, the company acknowledged in the statement that Marvin's Mountaintop, the West Virginia fairgrounds that has hosted the festival for the past 9 years, had created "challenges and frustrations" for fans and the grounds' neighbors.
"While Marvin's Mountaintop was a brilliant place for the music and camping aspects of the All Good Festival, getting over 12,000 cars up and down single lane country roads was problematic," said company president Tim Walther.
This year's festival ended in tragedy when a truck careened into a camp of tents where attendees slept, killing a South Carolina woman, Nicole Faris Miller. Her friends Yen Ton and Elizabeth Rose Doran were injured.
In three separate lawsuits filed in September and October, Ton, Doran, and Kim S. Miller, Nicole's father, accused Walther; his company; Marvin’s Mountaintop and several of the festival's vendors, including parking and security operators, of “wanton, reckless, grossly negligent" acts.
Walther Productions filed its first response to the allegations in U.S. District Court November 15, denying it should be held responsible for the accident. Instead, it claims Event Staffing, Inc., an independent contractor it hired, was responsible for assessing the venue's security needs and implementing a security plan.
In failing to do so, the security company "breached" its contract with Walther Productions and should be held liable for negligence.
A U.S. District judge has set a planning meeting on Kim Miller's lawsuit for January 6 and the initial discovery process due by February 3.
The civil lawsuits do not preclude a criminal case. In October, Preston County Sheriff Dallas Wolfe said West Virginia State Police have completed an accident reconstruction report. And the department's own report on the accident would be released this month.
Wolfe has not responded to requests for comment today.
After the department's own investigation is completed, the county's prosecuting attorney, Mel Snyder, would then decide whether to press additional criminal charges.
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