Alberta lawsuit filed in fatal stage collapse

The children of a woman killed by a stage collapse at the Big Valley Jamboree two years ago are suing the promoter, the city of Camrose and several companies for more than $5 million.
The main stage at the site of the Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose, Alta., lies in ruins after a storm in August 2009. (Canadian Press)

The children of a woman killed by a stage collapse at the Big Valley Jamboree two years ago are suing the promoter, the city of Camrose and several companies for more than $5 million.

Donna Moore, 35, of Lloydminster, Alta. died Aug. 1, 2009 after a fast-moving storm buckled the stage at the annual country music festival, sending scaffolding and massive speakers crashing to the ground.

Moore and a friend were seated in VIP bleachers on the right side of the stage, about 20 metres off the ground. Moore’s friend escaped injury but Moore was crushed by a large speaker. She left two boys, aged 16 and 10.

Failed to ensure safety

Documents filed in Wetaskiwin court show Moore’s children are represented in the lawsuit by Jennifer Bautz.

The lawsuit claims the various defendants were responsible for Moore’s safety and were negligent.

It says they failed to "maintain a suitable policy, system, or mechanism by which timely and accurate weather reports" could be received by staff at the festival site so that appropriate action could be taken. It also says the stage and speakers were not safe.

No statements of defence have been filed and none of the allegations in the lawsuit have been proven.

In the lawsuit, the children say they are seeking damages of more than $5 million for the loss of their mother’s financial support and because they have been "deprived of Donna’s care, guidance and companionship."

More lawsuits filed

Fifteen people were injured in the accident and at least two have also sued. Maria Orydzuk of Edmonton and Kathleen Brandon of St. Albert, Alta. were also on the stage when it collapsed.

They say they both suffered physical and emotional damage and are each suing for $500,000.

Alberta Health and Safety investigated the accident. The case has been sent to the Crown for possible criminal charges. A decision is expected next week.

After the accident, the promoter, Panhandle Productions, decided to continue the Big Valley Jamboree despite concerns about future liability costs. The music festival is set to open Thursday.

Since the collapse promoters have strengthened the stage and improved how they gather and distribute weather information.

"We're looking for advanced information so we know there's a storm tracking our way," said Larry Werner.

"Our attempt is to get as much information to the fans...through jumbotron advertisements, PA stage announcements and also through a texting system."