An insurer has sued rock band Limp Bizkit to try to avoid paying legal fees arising from a 16-year-old fan’s death at a 2001 concert in Australia.
United National Insurance Co. has asked a Los Angeles judge to declare that it does not have to cover legal fees the band incurred fighting wrongful death claims brought by the parents of Jessica Michalik, who was crushed in a crowd surge at the Big Day Out festival in Sydney.
The insurer said in its lawsuit, which was filed last 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.
Limp Bizkit’s attorney Ed McPherson said both a coroner’s inquest and an Australian court later found that the band was not at fault in Michalik’s death.
Michalik’s parents filed separate wrongful death claims naming promoters and security personal, and in one claim, the band. A New South Wales court dismissed Limp Bizkit and all parties connected with the band from the claim, finding they were not liable, McPherson said.
The band was left with “substantial legal fees,” he said, but the figure has not been disclosed. Claims against the remaining defendants were settled about three weeks ago, he said.
McPherson also said the band’s insurance broker has assured them that their policy did cover the Sydney concert. “They’ve been completely unresponsive and now have decided to resolve it by suing their own insured,” McPherson said. “I guess that’s what happens when you buy insurance nowadays.”
Harry Chamberlain, attorney for United National, said his client wanted the court to settle whether the concert was “a scheduled event” and whether Durst’s alleged behavior nullified the band’s insurance coverage.
The insurer is asking for a court order showing that it has no duty to indemnify the band and that Limp Bizkit be required to pay any damages arising from the wrongful death claim.
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