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Man injured by stage dive receives $2 million settlement

Saturday, September 26, 2020 9:27 AM PT
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A New Hampshire man who suffered serious injuries during a 2017 hardcore and punk music festival has reached a $2 million settlement with the concert's organizer.

The incident took place in April 2017 at Convention Hall in Asbury Park during a benefit concert for late Vision frontman Dave Franklin and featuring performances from Agnostic Front, Sheer Terror, H2O, and Killing Time, among others.

The lawsuit plaintiff, Jason Kooken, age 46 and a police officer, was injured when a stage diver landed on his head, causing significant spinal injuries. According to Kooken's lawyers, the event organizer did nothing to prevent stage diving, with security staff allowing fans to repeatedly mount the stage and launch themselves into the crowd.

"This individual walked right past security, climbed on the stage, pointed and then corkscrewed his body over the band's lead singer, flipping directly onto Mr. Kooken's head," Kooken's attorney Mark Morris said in a statement. Kooken fell to the floor and was temporarily paralyzed.

Kooken subsequently underwent spinal surgery at Jersey Shore Medical Center and has since recovered.

A GoFundMe for Kooken ultimately raised $11,580 for medical treatment, spearheaded by a $2,100 donation from Jason Dermer, president of the company Kooken ultimately sued, Asbury Audio.

Dermer, whose insurance company covered the settlement, was surprised by the lawsuit. "I was at the hospital to see him the moment they allowed visitors, bringing vegan meals since the hospital couldn't," Dermer said. "Every member of Agnostic Front stopped in as well... We all became friends. [Kooken] has been a guest in my home. Given the opportunity to let us out on a personal level, [Kooken] declined to do so."

"He was hurt. Permanently injured. That I understand," Dermer added. "But to lie/allow people to lie in your name to find your way out of personal responsibility, win a settlement, and then go to/allow his attorneys to go to the press in [this] manner is unacceptable. Insurance paid...oh well. That's what insurance is for. But what was taken and can never be replaced was the positive memories of doing the one thing that we could for Dave [Franklin]. This is not what 'friends', especially in our scene, do to each other."







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