Toots Hibbert Files $20M Lawsuit Against Concert Promoters Over Bottle Injury

Richmond, VA — Toots and the Maytals frontman Frederick “Toots” Hibbert has filed a $20 million lawsuit the promoters of an open-air concert held on Brown’s Island in May.

Hibbert was injured after a 19-year-old college student threw a bottle onstage near the end of the May 18 performance. His band was the headline act of the Dominion Riverrock Festival, sponsored by Richmond Sports Backers and Venture Richmond.

Hibbert was forced to cancel his remaining shows and returned to his native Jamaica for medical attention. The 71-year-old reggae singer needed 10 stitches to treat the injury. His manager said that Hibbert expressed his appreciation for his fans and said “he wanted to come back, and he understood this was just one bad apple, basically.”

Hibbert had already filed a $21 million lawsuit against former Radford University student William Connor Lewis, who was charged with aggravated assault in the the incident. He faces trial in Richmond Circuit Court on December 12.

“There is no way that Venture Richmond or Sports Backers could reasonably have anticipated or prevented this random act by a teenage spectator. He alone should be held responsible,” Venture Richmond executive director Jack Berry said.

“As you might imagine, we are very concerned about how lawsuits such as this could impact the future of outdoor festivals in Richmond, as all events depend on our ability to secure liability insurance.”

Berry said Venture Richmond’s insurance policy includes general liability, events and liquor liability “that covers everything we do.” Sports Backers has a separate policy for its events.

According to the Times-Dispatch, Sports Backers and Venture Richmond recently settled a $30 million lawsuit filed by an unregistered runner who was seriously injured at the end of the Filthy 5K run in the Riverrock festival in 2010. Sports Backers’ insurer settled with Robert A. Facteau III for $300,000.

Toots Hibbert’s lawsuit claims the organizers “violated the standard of care established in the industry to provide security, to protect performers and musicians appearing in public rock concerts.” The suit also names Strawberry Street Event and Concessions and Regional Marketing Concepts as defendants. Strawberry Street operated the liquor stall Venture Richmond believes the bottle was taken from, and Regional provided security for the event.

The suit also claims that Hibbert “cannot perform as he is fearful, cannot remember lyrics to songs he has written and performed over 40 years, and he cannot write songs, record or produce music.”

[Photo credit: Karl Simpson / Flickr]