Suit Faults No-Reentry Policy In Death

The parents of a Virginia Tech student who was killed after attending a Metallica show at John Paul Jones Arena in 2009 have filed a $3.5 million suit blaming the venue security firm’s “no re-entry” policy.

Regional Marketing Concepts is named in an amended suit filed March 26 in Charlottesville Circuit Court. It was originally filed in 2011, but amended to include details the parents of Morgan Harrington have since gathered.

The Harringtons’ lawsuit contends their daughter was barred from re-entering the venue despite witness accounts that she “suffered a serious head injury” after leaving her friends inside to go to a restroom, where she was witnessed behaving “erratically.”

She was observed in the restroom with a 2- to 3-inch cut on her chin. “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,” the suit claims.

No-reentry policies are common at concerts and other large events. But in Harrington’s case, when she attempted to return, RMC staff allegedly “barred her from a place of safety where medical attention could have been provided and where her friends could have assisted her.”

The lawsuit does not explain how Harrington sustained the cut, nor why she left the arena. Her body was found three months later in a farm field and her killer remains at large.

The lawsuit claims the policy hasn’t been consistently enforced – even at the same concert. It claims security staff allowed a patron outside to get his wallet in order to reenter and buy beer, according to the Daily Progress.

At the same Metallica show, an allegedly intoxicated, off-duty police officer was not only allowed back inside the arena, but security called for a taxi to take him home. 

Harrington family attorney Lee Livingston said the lawsuit is intended in part to increase public awareness of people clearly in distress.

“It isn’t enough for young women like Morgan to be vigilant,” Livingston said.  “Occasions will arise when young women need others to attend to them and offer reasonable care to them.”

The complaint lists dozens of assaults that occurred within a half-mile of the arena in recent years, arguing that RMC “knew or should have known that a number of criminal assaultive acts” in the past put Harrington at risk.

Photo: George Tazzini /
Yankee Stadium, Bronx, N.Y.

Dan and Gil Harrington, who have led a high-profile campaign to find their daughter’s killer, seek a jury trial in the negligence suit.