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The family of Christina Grimmie, the 22-year-old singer who was fatally shot following a 2016 concert in Orlando, Florida, has taken a big step in a lawsuit against AEG Live and the owner of the concert venue where she died. On Friday, a judge rejected defendants’ motions to dismiss and allowed the family’s lawsuit to move forward.
Grimmie was a rising star with popular YouTube videos, a third-place finish on the sixth season of NBC’s The Voice, tours with Selena Gomez and others, and roles on TV shows and in movies. On June 10, 2016, she was the opening act for the band Before You Exit. After the concert, at a meet and greet with fans, an individual named Kevin Loibl came up to her with guns and a knife and shot her three times. The shooter, who police said had an infatuation with her, then took his own life.
The family alleges in the lawsuit that the defendants “failed to take adequate security measures to ensure the safety of the performers and the attendees at the concert venue.”
Florida Circuit Judge Kevin Weiss dismissed the first iteration of the lawsuit last June, but upon an amended complaint, Grimmie’s family is permitted to assert claims of negligence against AEG and the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra (owner of the venue) plus claims of breach of duty and breach of contract against AEG.
The concert promoter moved for dismissal on the negligence claim with the argument that Grimmie’s family failed to allege with any particularity the nature of a special relationship that would give rise to it having any duty towards the singer.
“Here, Plaintiffs have provided numerous facts that, when taken as true, support the existence of a special relationship between AEG Live and Christina, including but not limited to payments made by AEG Live to Christina,” writes Weiss. “Furthermore, Plaintiffs maintain that AEG Live contractually shared the management and control of the concert, including security, with Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.”
Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra tried to beat the negligence claim by faulting Grimmie’s family with a lack of asserted facts that would show the shooting was legally foreseeable.
Judge Weiss thinks discovery is warranted and believes this issue is best reserved for a later stage of the litigation. He also points to the allegation of a “No Guns” sign in view at the venue.
AEG disputed having any employment relationship with Grimmie, and even if AEG did, the promoter argued claims were barred by Florida Worker’s Compensation Act. The promoter also attempted to assert that any breach over an oral contract would be barred by the Statute of Frauds.
The judge believes it is premature to resolve these issues without further fact-finding.
Grimmie’s family is also being allowed to move forward on claims of negligent infliction of emotional distress, and while they can’t recover damages for the singer’s lost income, the judge is permitting them to potentially recover damages for the lost financial support they received from Grimmie due to her death.
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