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Lawsuits filed in fatal W.Va. music festival crash

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The father of a 20-year-old South Carolina woman crushed under a truck as she slept in a tent at the All Good Music Festival is suing the event producers, hosts, traffic directors and security providers for negligence.

Nicole Miller died and two friends were serious injured in the July accident near Masontown. One, 21-year-old Yen Ton, is also suing in U.S. District Court in Clarksburg. All three women are from Mount Pleasant, S.C.

The lawsuits name a dozen defendants in all, including Maryland-based Walther Productions and president Tim Walther; and venue owner Marvin Huggins and his corporation, Marvin’s Mountaintop LLC.

Neither Huggins nor Walther’s attorney, Bob Martin, immediately returned telephone messages Monday, and neither has filed responses with the court.

Also named as defendants are: event promoter Junipa Contento; land owner James Carrico; M&M Parking Inc. of Pennsylvania; and three security providers, Event Staffing Inc. of Virginia, National Event Services Inc. of New Hampshire, and Axis Security Inc. of Tennessee.

The lawsuits also target the driver, whose pickup hit two other vehicles before plowing into the tent. Clay Harlin Lewin of Cape Charles, Va., didn’t immediately answer an email about the case.

His vehicle came to rest on top of the women, pinning Ton’s right arm and permanently injuring it, the lawsuits say. Miller, meanwhile, “slowly and painfully asphyxiated” from the weight of the vehicle, causing extreme emotional suffering to both Ton and the other woman, 20-year-old Elizabeth “Rosie” Doran.

Doran had not filed her own case as of Monday afternoon.

Police said at the time that Lewin lost control, but no charges were filed in the days after the accident.

The Preston County Sheriff’s Department was closed for the Columbus Day holiday, so it was unclear whether charges were later filed.

The lawsuits, filed Sept. 23 and 26, say the defendants should have been aware of the inherent “hazards and foreseeable danger” of parking vehicles so close to campsites on steep, grassy slopes.

All Good’s own website warned concertgoers against pitching tents in parking areas, the lawsuits say.

The festival draws tens of thousands of people each summer, but this was the first year it was held under a new mass gathering ordinance. The permit Preston County issued allowed a crowd of 19,500, the lawsuits claim, but the organizers allegedly allowed more than 30,000 people to gather.

The complaints say the defendants failed to: prevent situations where injuries were likely, properly regulate campsite locations and density; submit a traffic control plan before the event; and properly supervise the companies and people hired to manage the event.

Miller’s complaint seeks unspecified damages for his daughter’s medical care and burial, and for her family’s mental anguish. He wants Walther and Contento held personally liable.

Ton is also seeking punitive damages and compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, mental anguish and disfiguration.

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