How a DJ’s Retirement Savings Went Up in Smoke

November 2018
How a DJ’s Retirement Savings Went Up in Smoke

The Rolling Hills Soccer Club was on a quest. It needed to raise $100,000 for a new, lighted turf field so its soccer teams had a place to practice during winter months when the grass fields turned muddy and evening daylight was scarce. To achieve its fundraising goal, the club planned a charity auction event at the Tukwila Golf Course. The soccer club was to handle its own entertainment, using the speakers on-site.

Fortunately, the club didn’t have to deplete its budget hiring a DJ, because Gabe Allen, a team dad, was a professional DJ and gladly volunteered his time and equipment to emcee the event.

On the day of the auction, Gabe visited the golf course to set up the sound equipment. He connected his equipment to the building’s speakers and tested the sound. All worked as expected, so he left to enjoy the rest of his afternoon. He planned to return that evening just before the event began.

Unfortunately those plans would soon be changed. He had forgotten to shut off power to the system before he left, and regrettably, had made a fatal wiring mistake. So, while everyone was away, the wiring overheated . It wasn’t long before a fire broke out in the utility closet and quickly spread.

Fortunately for the club, the catering team was on-site and noticed the smoke before things got too out of hand. Nevertheless, the fire damaged the utility closet, speakers, the carpet and the adjacent walls and ceiling. In addition, the whole building had extensive smoke damage.

In the following weeks, things got interesting. The golf course sued the soccer club and Gabe’s disk jockey business for damages in the amount of $108,756. Gabe felt that he should not have to pay – after all, he was just volunteering his time for a good cause. On the other hand, the soccer club’s insurance carrier wasn’t about to step up and cover damages caused by Gabe. With settlement negotiations at a stalemate, the case proceeded to litigation.

In the end, the court found that Gabe was negligent and ordered him to pay damages in the amount of $108,756. Since Gabe did not have business insurance, he had to liquidate his retirement savings to cover the cost. Once he recovered from the shock, Gabe promptly secured business insurance so he would have the right disc jockey coverage in place going forward. It was a painful and expensive lesson. Especially when he realized how little a DJ liability policy costs!

Want to avoid a similar mistake? 
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Note: These examples are based on real claims scenarios. However, the details have been fictionalized to protect the privacy of those involved.

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