Poisons’ Michaels settles CBS-Tony Awards suit over head injury

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

Singer Bret Michaels of the rock band Poison took a knock to the head in 2009 during the CBS-broadcast Tony Awards that nearly killed him. The rocker filed a lawsuit earlier this year against the television network and awards-show organizers that ended with a mediated settlement.

Michaels suffered injuries to his face. The worst of it seemed to be a broken nose, although a facial injury for a performer can be injurious to a career. Doctors later discovered the set piece that fell on Michaels’ head caused a life-threatening brain hemorrhage.

The singer was furious that CBS allowed the video of the on-stage accident to air. A viral version was seen by millions of people online. Tony awards organizers were named in the suit for failing to warn Michaels about a set change during the show.

Poison’s contract to perform on the awards show should have covered the expectations of the performer and the organizers. Details of a set change were not too minute to include in the musicians’ work agreement. Michaels’ injury might have been prevented, if he and the band had known in advance when a set change would occur.

Performance agreements are not all about salary or security. Performers and the people who hire them are bound by contractual agreements that cover any number of professional or personal requirements. A provision that addressed the well-being of Michaels or band members in the event of a mishap could be written into a performance contract.

Performers and their temporary employers can end up at legal odds when signed contracts are too generic.
Settlement terms were not made public. One point Michaels wanted to make in court was how much impact the injury had on his reality TV show and musical career. The injury forced the singer and his bandmates to give up potential income during the musician’s long recovery.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Bret Michaels, Tonys Lawsuit: Rocker Settles Case Over 2009 Award Show Incident,” May 14, 2012