Town mulls $1M Field Day lawsuit settlement

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Th Field Day stage days before the planned event in Calverton.
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The Field Day stage days before the planned event in Calverton.

Riverhead Town may be close to reaching a $1 million settlement in the eight-year Field Day lawsuit, town officials said.

That’s the case in which the promoter of a proposed 2003 music festival at the town’s Enterprise Park at Calverton sought more than $30 million in damages from a number of town, county and state officials after the concert was denied.

“I cannot believe this came to fruition,” Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said Thursday, as the Town Board reviewed a draft resolution to settle the case.

In the draft settlement, the supervisor said the town agreed to pay Field Day LLC, the concert promoters, a total of $1 million, of which $250,000 would come from the town and the other $750,000 would be paid by the town’s insurance company.

He said Field Day has accepted that offer.

The Town Board was discussing the issue further in executive session Thursday and the resolution to authorize the settlement is expected to be formally voted on at the board’s regular meeting Tuesday.

Field Day LLC and AEG Live LLC filed the lawsuit in May 2004 against Suffolk County, the county health department, then-county executive Bob Gaffney, numerous other county officials, Riverhead Town, Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller, then-Riverhead Supervisor Bob Kozakiewicz and his executive assistant, Joey MacLellan, as well as New York State.

“This ends the litigation against the chief and town and then it’s over for us,” Mr. Walter said. “The litigation will go forward with the county.”

Field Day was a proposed three-day music festival at EPCAL that would have featured major acts such as Radiohead, Beastie Boys and Beck, among others.

The concert never took place because the county refused to provide police protection, and the town said it didn’t have enough police officers of its own, which resulted in the county health department denying Field Day a mass gathering permit.

The lawsuit named Chief Hegermiller personally, claiming his request for 150 more officers from the Suffolk County police department was not based on any standards or requirements found in the New York Mass Gatherings Laws.

The chief also had written a letter saying the town could “possibly” provide 50 police officers, in addition to the county officers.

“Field Day believed that by itself providing private security officers to control the festival inside the Enterprise Park, the Riverhead Police Department could provide a reasonable number of public law enforcement officers to control traffic flow into and outside of the Enterprise Park site, as well as a reasonable number of officers inside the site,” Field Day states in the lawsuit.

Town officials never officially approved nor denied the music festival, but instead held a press conference a few days before the concert was scheduled to start and announced that they would not issue the permit.

The concert was quickly moved to Giants Stadium in New Jersey as a one-day event, and there was a torrential rainstorm that day, which further limited attendance at the event.

Charles Bachman, the attorney representing Field Day in the case, declined comment Thursday.

[email protected]