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Monday, Oct 15, 2018
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Lawsuit: ‘Headbangers’ cost photographer his toenail at Jannus Live

ST. PETERSBURG — A group of rowdy "headbangers" caused a photographer to lose his toenail at a Jannus Live show, according to a lawsuit against the outdoor concert venue.

Travis Richard Ferkich, a 29-year-old who owns and operates Utopia Imagery, was hired to take photos of Nitti Gritti, one of the performers for the Jan. 6 "Destroy with Lazers" concert at Jannus Live, according to the suit filed in Pinellas-Pasco circuit court.

"... His big toe will never grow back," the suit said.

This is the second lawsuit filed against the venue by someone claiming to have been injured during a concert. In January, the venue was sued by a woman who said she slipped and fell off stage during an Insane Clown Posse show last year.

RELATED: At Insane Clown Posse concert, Florida woman slips on Faygo and falls off stage — then sues Jannus Live

The lawsuit, in graphic detail, discusses electronic dance music, the act of "headbanging" and the gruesome toe injury the photographer said he suffered.

In addition to Nitti Gritti, the featured performers at the Jan. 8 show — Herobust, and Skellism — are known for performing electronic dance music, or EDM, as the document put it.

Ferkich was in the venue’s "photo pit" in front of the stage, the lawsuit said, which is separated from spectators by "heavy railing." But some fans, according to the suit, started "headbanging," which the lawsuit described as "spectators (who) shake their head back and forth, violently, oftentimes while holding on to something for support; e.g., a heavy railing."

Those "headbangers" — again, this is directly from the lawsuit — grabbed the railing for support while they were engaged in headbanging. They lifted it up and brought it down on Ferkich’s big right toe, the lawsuit said.

Ferkich immediately left the photo pit to check out his foot due to the intense pain, according to the suit. Then, as the lawsuit detailed:

"Upon removing his shoe, Ferkich discovered a pool of blood in his sock, which began to spurt more blood as soon as he removed his sock. Then, upon removing his sock, Ferkich discovered, to his horror, that his big toe had been split into two. In between the spurts of blood, fragmented bone and nail, Ferkich could barely make out what once resembled his big toe. Meanwhile, the pain continued to intensify."

He left the venue and went to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg for medical treatment. He was discharged from the hospital with a toe fracture, the suit said, and underwent a nail avulsion (the damaged toenail was removed) and he would need "follow-up treatment and specialized wound care."

Thus, the suit said: "As a result of the January 6, 2018 incident at Jannus Live, Ferkich sustained severe personal injury, damage, and permanent and disabling disfigurement," the lawsuit read. "Ferkich’s toenail on his big toe will never grow back."

The lawsuit names Knight Global Entertainment LLC, which operates Jannus Live, and Signature Security Services LLC. The suit there were not enough security guards during the show, and the few that were in the photo pit "acted as mere observers" who did little to control the crowd or secure the railing.

In an earlier lawsuit filed in January, Sarah Hastings sued after she said she slipped and fell off the stage during an Insane Clown Posse concert. The group is known for spraying Faygo soda, native to their hometown of Detroit, into the crowd at their concerts.

Representatives of Jannus Live, Knight Global Entertainment and Signature Security Services did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

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