Retired cop injured by stage diver at Asbury Park concert wins $2M in suit

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A retired cop who was seriously injured by a stage diver at a 2017 punk rock concert at Asbury Park Convention Hall scored a $2 million settlement.

Jason Kooken, 46, sued Asbury Audio, Inc., which organized and produced the April 2 benefit concert headlined by famed hardcore band Agnostic Front.

During one of the band’s final songs, concertgoers began climbing onto the 4-foot high stage and diving into the crowd, according to a statement from Kooken’s attorney Mark Morris and video of the event.

Kooken was in the mosh pit near the stage when a man in a gray hooded sweatshirt flew into the crowd and struck Kooken in the head, leaving him temporarily paralyzed, his lawyers said.

“This individual walked right past security, climbed on the stage, pointed and then corkscrewed his body over the band’s lead singer, flipping directly onto Mr. Kooken’s head,” Morris said in a statement. Kooken fell to the ground and immediately lost feeling in his limbs.

He was rushed to Jersey Shore University Medical Center for emergency spinal surgery. After months in a rehabilitation facility near his New Hampshire home, he can now bike, surf and ski again — although he hasn’t recovered completely, his lawyers said.

The suit, filed in March 2019 in Monmouth County Superior Court, accused the venue’s security of negligence for failing to stop stage divers.

“This type of needless injury should have been prevented,” Morris said. “People who go to concerts should not have to worry about someone landing on their head.”

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Scenes form the stage diving injury.

Clark Law Firm

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Clark Law Firm

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Clark Law Firm

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Clark Law Firm

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The iconic concert venue on the Jersey Shore has hosted countless rock legends — including The Beach Boys, Janis Joplin, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan.

Jason Dermer, the owner of Asbury Audio, whose insurance will pay out the settlement, said the concert’s sole purpose was to raise money for charity in the name of a friend who had passed away a few months earlier.

“This was our way to say goodbye to our friend that died, and it turned into this personal nightmare,” he said of the suit that named him personally.

Dermer had no problem with Kooken reaching a settlement with the insurance company — but he was offended that he and his lawyers had publicized the deal.

“I feel hurt, I feel betrayed, [given] the fact that we did everything to help him after this happened,” Dermer said.

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