Insurance issues afflicted concerts
Published 4:19 pm, Thursday, July 2, 2015
Bands and musicians lined up to perform in this summer’s Concerts on The Green in New Milford have balked at signing the performance agreement.
They claim the agreement demanded an unreasonable legal requirement regarding insurance.
“I performed last year because so much publicity had already gone out that I would be there,” said musician Gordon Titcomb. “I eventually signed the waiver under much protest.
“This year, I have not yet signed. I’m hoping we can negotiate something that is more reasonable.”
Titcomb may have been referring to last year’s “Hold Harmless Agreement,” possibly sent in error this year by the town’s Commission on the Arts, which sponsors the concerts.
Town Attorney Randy DiBella said he prepared a new presentation agreement that removed what he viewed as “an egregious requirement” in previous years.
The agreement was updated May 16.
“No musician would sign the waiver as it was presented,” DiBella said. “It was language presented by the town’s insurer in 2012.”
Language removed from the agreement by DiBella included a paragraph requiring the signer (musician) to agree to pay the town of New Milford for any defense costs it incurred for any suits brought as a result of injury occurring during a concert.
Remaining in the new agreement is a waiver agreeing the musician will not hold the town responsible for bodily injury or property damage “caused by him/herself/them” during the concert.
Mayor Pat Murphy said the new agreement as crafted is better for everyone.
“We’ve made it easier,” Murphy said. “We still want to protect the town. This agreement says if they cause damages or injuries, they are responsible.”
“Before, they signed a waiver giving up all their rights. Now, they are covered for harm that befalls them that isn’t their fault, like anyone else attending the concerts.”
Titcomb is not alone in hesitating to sign.
Eastern Banjo has also protested. Superheroes, an ’80s and ’90s rock band, recently signed on.
“A couple of the guys were a little hesitant to sign the waiver,” said Superheroes guitarist and vocalist Michelangelo D’Amico. “We do a lot of outdoor concerts but never had to sign anything like this before.
“Sometimes, when we play weddings, people want to see proof of insurance and we provide it.”
Diane Dubreuil, the chairwoman of the Commission on the Arts, said she had thought she had resolved conflicts about the waiver and requirement that documentation be provided about band members’ insurance.
“It’s a new requirement and just about everybody has said something about it,” Dubrieul said. “The first year we had the waivers there was a lot of arguments about them.
“But it was language presented by the town’s insurance company. “I don’t think it’s unreasonable to request insurance documentation.”
The concerts have been offered on Saturday evenings in late summer for several decades, started by the Commission on the Arts with impetus from iconic band leader Skitch Henderson, who lived for many years in Northville before his death in 2005.