Lawyer calls for BB&T to shut down pending review of railing collapse

SMBB
August 7, 2016

As hip-hop trio Salt-N-Pepa performed Saturday at the BB&T Pavilion on the Camden waterfront, a day after dozens of concertgoers were injured in a railing collapse, a prominent Philadelphia lawyer was calling for the venue to shut down pending results of the accident investigation.

"If you have a safety hazard and you don't know what caused it, then you need to figure out what caused it before you reopen and put more people in danger," said Robert J. Mongeluzzi, a lawyer known for his personal-injury and negligence work.

Live Nation, a Los Angeles company, said it was working with Camden authorities and structural engineers to determine the cause of the collapse during a Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa show around 10 p.m.

Saturday's show, "I Love the '90s with Salt-N-Pepa & More," took place as scheduled.

"We were saddened that several dozen people, including Live Nation employees, sustained injuries resulting from a railing section collapse during the Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa concert at Camden's BB&T Pavilion on Friday night," the company said in a statement. "Live Nation is closely following the recovery of the injured fans and employees as well as actively working with authorities and structural engineers to determine the cause."

The company declined further comment.

People were pressing against the railing that separates the audience from the stage just before the collapse, and the concert was stopped after the accident.

Mongeluzzi said the accident reminded him of a 1998 railing collapse at Veteran's Stadium in South Philadelphia. He won a $1.05 million settlement for victims in that case.

Mongeluzzi said he believes there are only two possibilities for Friday's accident: Either the railing failed in its design or maintenance, or there was a security failure and too many people were pressed against the railing.

Until the cause is determined, Mongeluzzi said, the venue should be closed for shows.

"They have to come to the conclusion of what happened before they can reopen," he said Saturday night. "Opening and exposing people to the hazard without knowing what it is is reckless."

Katie Colbridge, 23, a recent Temple University graduate who attended Friday's show, said about 50 people fell several feet to a concrete pathway below.

"Everyone's piling on each other," said Colbridge, who lives in Northeast Philadelphia, describing the chaotic scene. "Once they jumped on the stage [Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa] and the spotlight hit, all the people surged forward."

Colbridge said after the accident that some people simply ran from the pile, while others were limping and needed to be held up by their friends.

Dan Keashen, Camden County spokesman, said Saturday that 42 people suffered injuries. Thirty-one people were taken to Camden's three hospitals - Cooper University Hospital, Lourdes Medical Center, and Virtua Camden - and three others to Kennedy University Hospital in Cherry Hill, he said. The remaining eight were treated on-site by medics and released, he said.

Spokeswomen for the hospitals reported all injuries as minor.

Keashen said his understanding was that Snoop Dogg or Wiz Khalifa, who were on a secondary stage at the venue, was gesturing to people in the audience to come toward the stage. That's when people moved toward the railing, which then pitched forward.

The Camden County Sheriff's Office is investigating with assistance from the Camden County Police Department, Keashen said.

Vince Basara, spokesman for the City of Camden, said city officials from the building and code-enforcement departments and the fire marshal worked with Live Nation and BB&T to install a temporary railing with a buffer zone before Saturday night's concert.

BB&T planned to provide security to make sure concertgoers Saturday could not touch the temporary railing, Basara said.

 

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Robert J. Mongeluzzi

Office: 215-575-2989