Rapper Dwight Myers, who goes by the name Heavy D, is suing his liability insurance carrier, National Union Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh, saying it has failed to pay him indemnity as ordered by a New York court two years ago. Heavy D requested indemnity for his liability stemming from an event where he and fellow rapper Sean Combs, who has been known by various names including P. Diddy and Puff Daddy, coached opposing sides at a celebrity basketball game at New York’s City College. A huge crowd showed up, everyone could not fit in the building, and pushing and shoving led to a stampede in which nine people were crushed to death.
Heavy D is seeking $1.5 million from the insurer, including $791,000 in indemnity, $381,000 in interest and a hefty, or Heavy, $324,000 in attorney fees. Is it just me, or does that sound like a lot of attorney fees for a dispute over the meaning of insurance contract terms that was decided in a bench trial?
Here’s a link to the underlying case of National Union Fire Insurance v. Heavy D, which the New York court provided on a publicly available, easily accessible website, unlike federal courts that provide access to most of their stuff only through the ECF system. (Scroll down to the fifth paragraph of the link). The trial court rejected the insurer’s defense that coverage was precluded by the policy’s exclusion for "promoting activities to the extent of contracting with arenas, halls, theaters and other places for theatrical presentations, whereby the business [Heavy D] is holding harmless aforesaid facility." The court found that Heavy D was not the promoter of the event, Sean Combs was, and that the basketball game was not a theatrical presentation like a musical concert or tour.