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L.A. Coliseum, Insomniac sued by parents of dead teenager

September 8, 2011 |  5:40 pm

Photo: Sasha Rodriguez. Credit: Family photo The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission and the event company Insomniac were sued Thursday by the parents of a teenage girl who died of an Ecstasy overdose after attending a Coliseum rave.

The suit also names former Coliseum events manager Todd DeStefano, whom Insomniac employed as a consultant while he held the stadium job, and two private companies he formed. Those companies  received at least $1.8 million in payments from firms that also did business with the commission.

The suit alleges that the defendants were negligent in their staffing and supervision of the Electric Daisy Carnival concert in June 2010.

Sasha Rodriguez took Ecstasy, an illegal drug, after entering the venue, the lawsuit says, and overcrowded and understaffed conditions "delayed the response of on-site security and emergency medical services providers to her by approximately 20 minutes." The suit also describes the security and medical workers as "inadequately trained."

By the time Rodriguez arrived at the emergency room, "she was non-verbal with saliva bubbling at the corners of her mouth," the suit says. "Shortly after arriving at the emergency room she suffered a seizure and experienced an acute respiratory failure." 

The Coliseum, Insomniac and DeStefano should have known that the rave would "enable widespread illegal and illicit activity … which endangered the health, safety and well-being of all" attendees, including Rodriguez, according to the lawsuit, filed in L.A. County Superior Court.

The plaintiffs have particularly harsh words for Insomniac and seek punitive damages imposed on the company "in order to set an example ... and to dissuade it from future reckless and illegal conduct."

The suit accuses Insomniac and DeStefano of conspiring to increase the rave's attendance "beyond a reasonable capacity and reducing production costs by limiting on-site security personnel to a level that was unable to maintain order and ensure the safety" of attendees.

"DeStefano's divided loyalties played a crucial part in Insomniac's … inadequate security and emergency medical services preparations," the lawsuit says.

It also accuses the Coliseum of negligent supervision of DeStefano. The Coliseum "should have known that absent sufficient supervision, DeStefano would likely put his own personal and event consulting business' and … Insomniac's financial profits ahead of the safety" of the participants, of EDC attendees," the document says.

A lawyer for DeStefano did not respond to a request for comment.

Donovan Main, a commission attorney, said the Coliseum had not been served with the lawsuit yet and had no comment.

Gary Jay Kaufman, a lawyer for Insomniac, issued the following statement by email:

"The case is completely without merit, and we look forward to defending the matter in court, where we are confident that Insomniac will prevail….

"While Ms. Rodriguez's death is an unspeakable tragedy, the complaint fully admits that she knowingly ingested an illegal drug.… As will become clear when all the facts are known, she made personal choices that we cannot control."


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Photo: Sasha Rodriguez. Credit: Family photo