Add Laser Beams to List of Potential Injury Hazards at Concerts

People go to hear live music for a good time, but it’s not unheard of for disaster in the form of personal injury or death to strike. For example, on February 20 2003, fire erupted at a Great White concert killing 100 and injuring 180. The concert fire started when a spark from the band’s pyrotechnic gerbs display ignited the soundproofing foam insulation lining the walls of the club as Great White began their set.

On march 25, 1990, an arsonist started a fire at an unlicensed social club in the Bronx, New York, called “Happy Land”, that killed 87 people, mostly ethnic Hondurans. Now you can add permanent eye damage from laser beams to the potential risks of concert-going. Over 30 people, who attended an open air music festival near Moscow in early July, 2008, suffered eyesight damage that doctors fear could be permanent.

Just days after The Aquamarine Festival was held people started seeking medical assistance in July complaining of aching eyes and eyesight loss. What happened was that laser beams were directed into the eyes of the people attending the concert, burning their retinas. One of the victims explained that although usually laser beams at concerts are directed into the air, since it was raining heavily, the organizers had to stretch a canopy over the dance floor, and the laser beam at times was turned from the sky into the audience.

Doctors say the “loss of eyesight is up to 80% in some cases” and for some of the victims “it will not be possible” to restore their eyesight. The patients range in age from 16 to 30 and have identical symptoms. Users of psychotrance.ru report that their cameras and video recorders were damaged. The injured concertgoers plan to take legal action against the organizers of the festival.

Earlier this year it was announced that a speaker maker, JBL, and two bus companies, ABC Bus Leasing Inc. and Superstar Services, which leased buses for band members and the fireworks, have agreed to tentative settlements stemming from the Great White fire at 2003 fire at the Station in West Warwick, Rhode Island. A lawsuit alleged that the JBL speakers had flammable foam inside.

In May of this year, Brewer Anheuser-Busch Inc. and a Rhode Island beer distributor have offered $21 million to settle lawsuits brought by survivors and relatives of the 100 people killed in the fire. As of May 2008, over $122 million, has been offered to the families of the victims of the fire by various defendants in settlement. The club owners and the former Great White tour manager whose pyrotechnics sparked the fire received prison sentences for their roles in the disaster.

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