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Vancouver Olympic live site's legacy is litigation

Nineteen people were injured when a live site barrier collapsed

While Vancouver city hall plans low-key Canucks' playoff screenings at community centres, it continues to deal with the aftermath of an ill-fated concert during the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Nineteen people were injured Feb. 16, 2010 when thousands of Alexisonfire fans surged at the David Lam Park live site, causing a barrier to break and collapse. The concert was immediately cancelled. Top civic officials conceded in an earlier meeting that the key to the locked emergency exits was lost and they did not know the site's maximum capacity.

Two more people sued the city in February before the two-year, B.C. Supreme Court filing deadline.

Prince George's Kristopher Neil Foot was working for contractor Sensor Protection Group and suffered knee, back and soft tissue injuries when the broken barrier landed on him. His Feb. 10 lawsuit names the city, promoter Live Nation and stage supplier Premier Global Production of Regina and charges them with negligence for holding a concert at an unsuitable site where an "excessive number of people" were allowed to put weight on defective barriers.

Usman Ghani, Foot's lawyer, also represents Jasmeen Khera of Port Coquitlam, who sued on March 30, 2011 because of serious injuries to her lower right leg. Ghani said she underwent a third surgery on March 23 that she hopes was her last. He also hopes settlement talks with the city succeed.

"If not, we'll set a trial date," Ghani said.

In a May 2011 interview, Foot said he took Khera to the on-site first aid tent before he was overcome.

"(Her flesh) was torn right to the bone, from her knee to the foot, it looked like a grenade went off," Foot said. "I guess my adrenaline wore out and the pain hit me, I totally collapsed and knocked stuff over at the tent. I was immediately put on a gurney and rushed to hospital because they thought I broke my back."

Four days after Foot's lawsuit, student Salimah Valiani sued the city and Live Nation, claiming she suffered lacerations, an infection and psychological and emotional distress. She claimed she was pushed into metal fencing and suffocated under a pile of people.

"The plaintiff screamed while trying to get a security guard's attention to pull her out but nobody was initially able to help her," said Valiani's filing. "The plaintiff's leg was crushed into something sharp from the people's weight on top of her."

City spokeswoman Wendy Stewart declined comment. In their June 15, 2011 defence of an April 29, 2011 lawsuit by live site-injured Vanessa Hannusch, the city and Live Nation both claimed they "took all reasonable care of the premises" and that the fencing failure "was caused by a latent defect not identifiable upon visual inspection."

Meanwhile, Canada Place has nixed a plan to show Stanley Cup playoff games on its external video screen. The federal Crown corporation's spokeswoman Robyn McVicker said Monday that it consulted with city hall and the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association.

2010goldrush@gmail.com

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