An Austin, Texas, jury ruled Thursday in favor of noise-rockers The Jesus Lizard and area venue Liberty Lunch in a case in which a woman sued the group after allegedly being injured by a flying beer can at a May 1996 show.
The woman, Melissa Slepekis, was seeking damages for an injury that she claimed she suffered when JL frontman David Yow allegedly threw a nearly full can of beer into the audience, striking the woman in the jaw.
"Our side of the story is that since David Yow often throws beer cans, he cannot remember if he did so on the night in question," said David Viecelli, the band's spokesperson. "We were able to demonstrate that David's behavior in throwing a beer can was not that unusual in that kind of show and there is a certain assumption of risk on the part of the concert-goer."
Much of the testimony in the four-day trial concerned the amount of beer contained in the can. According to the Austin Chronicle, Yow told the court, "It's not so much that I wouldn't want to waste it -- it's just what I do: I drink a beer, and when I'm done with it, I toss it away."
The band's attorney argued that an empty beer can could not inflict the kind of damages the plaintiff was seeking, Viecelli said. It also was argued that a concert-goer accepts an implied risk when attending a concert by a band like The Jesus Lizard, whose shows are typically characterized by stage-diving, crowd-surfing and wild stage antics.
Slepekis' attorney could not be reached for comment by press time.
All four members of the band -- guitarist Duane Denison, bassist David Sims, then-drummer Mac McNeilly and Yow -- were named as defendants in the civil case and all four testified. Initially, Slepekis filed suits against the band's label, Capitol Records; the touring company, Pyrite; the venue, Liberty Lunch; as well as members of the group.
All of the claims except those filed against the band and the venue were dismissed by the court without ever being heard by a judge or jury.
This is just the latest in a long line of legal battles for The Jesus Lizard. Yow was arrested in Cincinnati in 1995 for exposing his genitals during a performance. The band also has been banned from ever performing in Seattle after the city fire marshal's warnings to Yow about stage-diving were ignored.
The band was forced to cancel a hometown Chicago gig while attending the trial in Texas, but that show has been rescheduled for July 25 at the Cabaret Metro.