Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Can You Hair Me Now?
A couple who sued the heavy metal band Whitesnake claiming that one of them suffered hearing problems after seeing the band at Boston’s Orpheum Theatre will have to be content with a $40,000 settlement, the Appeals Court has ruled.
Maryellen and Kevin Burns filed the suit against the band, the promoter and the venue owner after attending a 2003 show during the band’s “Mmmm … Nice Package” tour, which also featured heavy metal groups, the Scorpions and Dokken.
The couple said a piece of staging equipment blocked the view from their original seats, so theater staff moved them to a new location closer to the stage. The new seats were also closer to a large tower of speakers which had the potential to blast music at a volume anywhere from 2 to 22 times what is considered “acceptable exposure” to the human ear, a hearing loss expert said in a statement filed with the court. The plaintiffs claimed lead singer David Coverdale even looked at the speakers and joked “Is this safe?” before launching into his 80’s hair metal hits like “Here I Go Again” and “Is This Love.”
Maryellen Burns claimed she suffered long-term hearing loss following the concert that included the shearing of the nerve cells of the cochlea inside her ear.
She said a mediation session started on an awkward note when an attorney for Whitesnake handed Burns what she thought was a document relating to the case. It turned out to be an envelope containing a glossy autographed photo of Coverdale.
The plaintiffs, who appeared pro se, objected in their Appeals Court briefs to the classification of Whitesnake as a heavy metal band, arguing that such a term pigeonholed “Mr. Coverdale’s talented voice …[and] classic rock & blues sound.”
The Appeals Court found the plaintiff had “not provided any coherent reason” why the $40,000 settlement should not be enforced and did not comment on whether Whitesnake should be called a heavy metal band.