A new court filing by the parents of Morgan D. Harrington claims their daughter, disoriented from a blow to the head, was stopped from re-entering a concert by security, sparking the chain of events that led to her death.
The suit, by Harrington’s mother, Gil Harrington, on behalf of her daughter’s estate, asks for $3.9 million from Regional Marketing Concepts Inc., the company that provided security at the October 2009 John Paul Jones Arena concert her daughter left shortly before she disappeared.
Morgan Harrington’s body was found the next January, in a pasture in rural Albemarle County.
At a news conference Tuesday, the attorney representing Harrington’s estate, Lee Livingston, said that newly uncovered information has allowed the suit to make more detailed factual allegations. Livingston said he believes it’s important for people to understand the details of Harrington’s death to prevent future deaths. The Harringtons have made their Save the Next Girl campaign a major focus.
Sometime after Harrington left her seat at a Metallica concert about 8:15 p.m. and before she arrived at a bathroom, she “suffered a serious head injury and was rendered unable to take care of herself,” according to the suit.
A bystander found her in the bathroom with a 2- to 3-inch cut on her chin and acting erratically, but not smelling of alcohol, according to the suit.
“Morgan made statements to the bystander indicating that Morgan did not know where she was — she was not even oriented as to time and place,” according to the suit.
Harrington left the arena and, when she tried to get back inside, was rebuffed by security, according to the lawsuit.
Later that night, she was seen trying to hitch a ride on the Copeley Road railroad bridge. It’s the last time anyone has reported seeing her alive.
The suit claims that arena security workers had allowed a patron out to get his wallet so he could re-enter and buy beer. The lawsuit also claims that the night Harrington vanished after being refused re-entry, security workers found an intoxicated off-duty Fairfax County police officer at the concert and arranged for him to be driven away in a taxi.
The suit accuses the security company of negligence, for failing to keep Harrington safe, including when staff saw her injured at the arena’s door, and breach of contract.
The suit suggests the company should have been on guard for the risk of “criminal assault,” because the nature of the defendant’s business “provided a climate for assaultive crimes” and that it should have been especially careful because it was a metal concert.
“In this case, the dynamic of booking heavy metal rock bands in particular, a genre of music whose themes include violence and substance abuse, increases the risk and will focus attention on such a culture as part of RMC’s business ... heightens both RMC’s duty to [concertgoers] and the foreseeability of harm,” the suit reads.
The Harringtons said they’ve also been reaching out to the families of other people who’ve gone missing recently.
Among the most important things to do, said Dan Harrington, Morgan Harrington’s father, is keep attention on the story.
“It’s very easy for these stories to die,” he said.
RMC did not respond to a request for comment.