Not Your Typical Prom Night Peril
Disc jockey George Jett specialized in school dance entertainment. He performed at dozens of school events every year, ranging from proms to gym dances, to homecomings and to turnabouts. The students and faculty loved working with him because he was positive, professional and always put on high energy, interactive shows that kept the dance floor packed from beginning to end.
George had a longstanding invitation to emcee the prom for his high school alma mater. This year, they requested a light version of his favorite DJ package, which included a 9-by-12 video screen and 20 feet of trussing for a lively light show. The prom was to be held in the school gym that had a stage at one end. George couldn’t wait – he had purchased a new fixture and was excited to view the lighting effect in a large, open location.
The Drapery Disaster
Prom night came, and within minutes of opening the gym doors the audio was thumping, the lights were flashing, and the dance floor was jumping. Everyone was having the time of their lives. Then suddenly, the fantastic light show turned into a frightening ring of fire! When George had set the light bar up on stage, he set it too close to the curtains that flank the stage. The curtains, although fire retardant per code, were not fireproof. They alit and flames quickly spread to the crepe paper decorations, the tablecloths, and the posters, working its way from one end of the gym to the other.
Luckily, everyone got out of the building safely but the fire and smoke left its mark. The fire caused significant property damage to the interior of the gym and the majority of the attendees experienced bodily injury from smoke inhalation.
Ultimately, the school sued George and his business. Numerous individual lawsuits were filed as well. Although George’s business insurance company defended George, he was found liable. The carrier paid $300,000 to the school for property damages and $600,000 in individual bodily injury claims resulting from smoke inhalation and traumatic stress.
The loss burned, but George was immensely thankful for his DJ-tailored insurance. Without proper coverage, this mistake could have wiped out his business and all of his personal assets, for many years too come!
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Note: This case study is based on real claims scenarios. However, the story has been fictionalized to protect the privacy of those involved.