Man paralyzed at concert sues Merriweather Post

August 19, 1994|By Ed Heard | Ed Heard,Sun Staff Writer

An Essex man has filed a $100 million lawsuit against Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, accusing the amphitheater's security guards of breaking his neck and leaving him paralyzed while evicting him from a June 29 rock concert.

Towson attorney Dennis Psoras filed the civil suit on behalf of Brian Cross in Baltimore County Circuit Court on Wednesday.

Mr. Cross, 23, lies unable to move from the neck down at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where he has been since the incident. Mr. Cross was reported in serious but stable ++ condition yesterday, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The suit claims that two guards snatched Mr. Cross from a crowd of about 5,000 concert-goers, twisted his arms behind his back and "violently" removed him from the amphitheater, breaking his neck.

Family members claim that improper handling of the injured man increased chances for paralysis.

The suit charges battery, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment and negligence. It seeks $60 million in punitive damages and $40 million in compensatory damages.

"We just want to get the message across to Merriweather Post Pavilion that our client will require medical attention around the clock for the rest of his life," said Mr. Psoras. "You can't put a price on it. He's trapped in a body that won't function."

Corporate Trust in Baltimore, which serves as resident agent for Merriweather, was served with the suit Wednesday. Merriweather has 30 days to file a response.

Merriweather Manager Jean Parker had not received the suit as of yesterday and would not comment on it. She said only that the guards involved were cleared by Merriweather of any wrongdoing after an internal investigation in which pavilion officials conducted interviews with guards and patrons.

Ms. Parker would not name the guards, who also are not named in the suit.

No criminal allegations have been filed in the incident. Howard County police spokesman Sgt. Steve Keller said all information the department gathered on the incident has been forwarded to State's Attorney William R. Hymes for review.

"He'll decide whether or not a criminal investigation is warranted," Sergeant Keller said.

The suit claims that on June 29, guards grabbed Mr. Cross while he was "floating," a rock concert ritual in which fans are passed from hand to hand over the top of the crowd. The guards then slammed Mr. Cross to the ground face down and beat him. They and two other guards then carried Mr. Cross from the pavilion in a spread-eagled position. His injured neck was not stabilized at the time, the suit states.

The guards then dropped Mr. Cross outside the pavilion's main gate and taunted him before leaving, the suit says.

Two Howard County officers patrolling concert grounds saw Mr. Cross being taken out and dropped on the ground about 8:30 p.m., police said. Mr. Cross was examined by county medical personnel and taken to Shock Trauma.

Merriweather Post officials say only that Mr. Cross was ejected from the concert and that he was driven from the grounds by ambulance.

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