Canadian Paralyzed At Bon Jovi Concert Faces Legal Wait


January 8, 2009

It’s been 18 months since Dennis Schulz, father of two, went to a Bon Jovi concert and in a heartbeat had his neck snapped under the weight of a flying human being.

But any relief for the quadriplegic from a multimillion-dollar lawsuit is still a year or two away in a case that has entangled the concert promoter, the arena owner, the people who poured the booze and even Edmonton’s chief of police.

“I can’t say if the (trial) date will be 2010 or 2011,” Schulz’s lawyer, Patrick Phelan, said in an interview with The Canadian Press. He said his client prefers not to talk to reporters, but added “his attitude is excellent,” especially considering the circumstances.

“How would you feel if you had no motion in your arms and legs?”

Schulz was 40 when he went with his wife, Elana Hartman, to see the rock band perform at Rexall Place on July 12, 2007.

They were near the corner of the building. Section 222, Row 22, Seat 5 was his. Good seats, the second row of the upper deck, not far from the stage. When Schulz looked up to his left he could see the blue banners of retired Edmonton Oilers greats – Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Grant Fuhr.

The random nature of ticket disbursement had Schulz and his wife sitting in front of Kendra Stasyk and Darryl Allan. Behind that couple were Brad McCorry and Alisa Rabideau.

According to Schulz’s statement of claim, the atmosphere wasn’t safe from the get-go: the lighting was too dark, the music too loud, security lax.

Around 9:30 p.m., things quickly got out of hand.

Rabideau was, according to the statement, drunk and “rudely, recklessly and repeatedly spilling beverages on spectators seated a row ahead of her.”

The statement suggests Allan and Stasyk were not amused. They warned Rabideau to cut it out, settle down. When she didn’t, Stasyk reached out and knocked a drink from Rabideau’s hand.

Then the men got into it, the claim says. Allan stepped up into the next row to confront McCorry only to get pushed back – right onto the head of the unsuspecting Schulz.

He toppled straight back, pushing Schulz’s head down until his neck snapped. His head was left hanging limply, say witnesses, his chin resting on his rib cage.

Nobody noticed right away as the melee continued and the band played on.

The C4-5 vertebrae were snapped. Today, Schulz can’t feel anything below his neck. He can’t feed himself or even cough on his own.

“Mr Schulz … has been advised by his doctors that he will not work at his job as a journeyman machinist again. He will not walk again. Currently he has no movement in his hands,” Phelan wrote in a letter on file in the courthouse.

None of the allegations contained in the statement of claim have been proven in court.

Schulz is one of three plaintiffs. Hartman is also suing for loss of income and the province of Alberta is trying to recoup health-care costs. The bulk of the damages sought are from Schulz, including $7 million for medical care.

His lawsuit was filed in November 2007, and in subsequent months the defendants filed statements of defence. Many have also filed notices to each other stating that should they be found liable, they may be coming after each other for the money.

Rabideau, in her statement of defence, says she wasn’t drunk or disorderly and that Allan started it by throwing a drink in her face.

McCorry agreed. Yes, drinks were spilled, he said in his statement of defence. He accidentally spilled one on Stasyk, and apologized, but Allan overreacted, throwing a drink on Rabideau, then lunging at him. He said he “placed his open hand on Allan’s chest to ward him off. Allan then went backwards.”

Allan, in his statement, said McCorry pushed him without provocation or warning and added he “had no opportunity to avoid contact with McCorry or to prevent himself falling.”

Stasyk, in her statement, said she didn’t do anything at all, and certainly didn’t start the fight by knocking a drink out of Rabideau’s hand.

Schulz also accuses the concert promoter – Panhandle Productions – and the arena operator – Edmonton Northlands – of negligence for failing to provide adequate security. Both deny this.

Schulz says the liquor servers, Dominion SportService, overserved and didn’t check to see if anyone was drunk. Dominion denies this.

Schulz says the police, some of whom were contracted to provide security for the event, were lax. He claims that rather than monitor the crowd, officers simply asked ushers to report problems to them.

Police Chief Mike Boyd denies this in his statement of defence, noting “adequate policing resources were supplied.”

Police have not laid charges, citing the case as non-criminal .

“It’s accurate to point out that everybody is pointing fingers, (but) that’s to keep their options open,” said Phelan in the interview.

His team, he said, has collected statements from 15 people who sat near Schulz that fateful night.

“We know what happened.”

If the case goes to trial, it’s expected to last almost a month.

Courtesy of