I always thought this would happen. You attend a concert with rabid fans, pulsating music and surging adrenaline. During the show the drummer decides he needs a new stick or the show is ending and he wants to leave his fans with a momento. So he throws a drumstick into the audience. It’s usually not a soft pass with an open palm, but more like throwing a knife with the stick whirling end over end at a good clip. I always wondered if anyone ever gets hurt when this happens. Well someone finally did.
At the Styx concert at Aaron’s Ampitheatre in Atlanta Georgia in June of 2015, Styx drummer Todd Sucherman hurled a drumstick into the crowd that struck Lori Frederick. Ms. Frederick recently filed suit against Sucherman in Fulton County Georgia and alleged that Sucherman “negligently threw a drumstick into the audience during the performance which struck plaintiff in her face and “caused seriously physical injuries.” She also sued Delaware based TMB productions which “owned, operated or managed the band Styx in its musical performances.” She claimed damages that included physical pain, bodily scars, emotional anguish, loss of enjoyment of life and, of course, “loss of the benefit of the concert tickets.”
The case is somewhat analogous to being hit by an errant baseball when you’re a fan at a professional baseball game. Usually those cases filed by injured fans fail because your ticket has language advising you of the danger of being hit by a ball and everyone knows that foul balls pose a hazard. It’s a risk of attending the game. Legally, it’s termed an “assumption of risk” by the injured party who knows, or should know, of the peril confronting them given the situation.
As a drummer, this case is particularly intriguing to me and raised some questions, although not necessarily legal ones. What kind of stick did Sucherman throw? Were they 2B’s (big heavy marching band sticks) or 7A’s? (which are lighter and smaller and used by many jazz musicians). I tend to think Sucherman probably had some heavy timber. Drumsticks are generally all made from hard woods—were Sucherman’s oak or hickory? I also wonder if the stick had a wood tip or a nylon tip, was the tip damaged with splinters, and did the tip strike Frederick in the face? I also wonder if Frederick still possesses the stick and if it will be introduced as an exhibit at trial. I’ll be following this one.
Ken Selander is a Seattle personal injury attorney in its Columbia City neighborhood. He represents those who are injured due to the negligence and carelessness of others. (It’s doubtful he would sue a fellow drummer). Ken is also a drummer in a Tacoma based blues band, Zero Down, that plays regularly at Rock the Dock in Tacoma.