CLARKSBURG — A company that provided security for West Virginia’s All Good Music Festival is asking a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit against it, saying it wasn’t responsible for an accident that killed a South Carolina woman at the annual event this summer.
Axis Security Inc.’s response was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia last week.
The company, based in Tennessee, admits to being contracted to provide “general security” at this year’s festival, according to its Nov. 11 answer.
“This Defendant denies being retained to ensure the safety of the attendees throughout the festival site with regard to the camping and parking for the festival attendees, specifically, as this Defendant was not responsible for determining the location and/or manner in which festival attendees camped or parked vehicles,” Axis wrote in its 22-page response.
More specifically, the company denies it instructed Clay Harlin Lewin, the driver of the pickup truck that plowed into decedent Nicole Miller’s tent, to “park in the manner and/or location in which he did.”
Axis also denies it is “vicariously liable” for any other defendant’s acts or negligence.
Each year, since 2003, the for-profit All Good Music Festival is held at Marvin’s Mountaintop in Masontown, Preston County. This year’s festival was held July 14-17.
According to the plaintiffs’ complaints, Miller and her two friends were directed to set up their tent at the bottom of a steep, grass-covered hill at the festival. Meanwhile, Lewin was told to park his pickup at the top of hill.
At some point, his truck slipped down the hill, hitting two other cars before crashing into Miller’s tent. Miller and her friends were asleep at the time. All three were trapped.
Lewin’s vehicle landed on Miller’s chest, making it impossible for her to breathe.
The decedent’s friends say although Miller was initially conscious, she “slowly and painfully asphyxiated” due to the weight and compression of the pickup.
Both say they had to “wait helplessly pinned down” as their friend died before their eyes.
A total of three lawsuits have been filed in federal court against the festival, its owners, organizers, hosts, and traffic and security providers in the young woman’s death.
In addition to Axis, the named defendants include: Walter Productions Inc. d/b/a All Good Presents; president and owner Tim Walther; promoter Junipa Contento; Marvin Huggins, an owner of property in which the festival is held; his company Marvin’s Mountaintop LLC; James Carrico, another owner of property in which the festival is held; M & M Parking Inc. aka M & M Event Services LLC, which provided parking services for the festival; and security providers Event Staffing Inc. and National Event Services.
The plaintiffs — Miller’s father, Kim, and her two friends, Yen Ton and Elizabeth Rose Doran — also are suing Lewin.
All three plaintiffs contend the defendants, including Axis, failed to provide a plan for traffic control and failed to comply with West Virginia code regulating campsite density and roadways.
The defendants, they say, should have been aware of “the hazards and foreseeable dangers” presented by having attendees park their vehicles in close proximity to tents on such steep, grass-covered slopes and rugged terrain.
The two friends argue they have suffered “serious” physical and emotional injuries, and have incurred “significant” economic damages.
Drew S. Woods of Pullin Fowler Flanagan Brown and Poe’s Morgantown office is representing Axis in the lawsuits.