By Kenneth B. Goldblatt

I am the attorney for Vicki Calcagno, the woman who sued Rick Springfield for injuries she sustained after he knocked her to the ground during his concert at the state Fairgrounds in 2004. I am writing this letter in response to the negative comments that were posted by members of the Syracuse community.

Let me state from the beginning that my intention in writing this letter is not to persuade you to change your initial impressions, as I understand that first impressions are made only once. Rather, my intention is to present you with the facts as testified to by Ms. Calcagno, Mr. Springfield and his tour manager, in hopes of demonstrating that those of you who “rushed to judgment” without knowing the facts may have done so prematurely.

As many of you know, as part of his act Mr. Springfield ventures out into the audience, where he performs a few songs. However, before doing so, as a means of ensuring both his own safety and that of the members of the audience, Mr. Springfield goes into the seating area to “scope it out” in order to test the stability of the seating. When he thinks it is unsafe to do so, including at times when the seating is unstable, or is wet, he will refrain from going into the audience because, fully expecting to be jostled and pushed from all sides, he understands that unsecured seating and/or wet conditions will make it difficult for him to “maintain his balance.”

On August 28, 2004, Ms. Calcagno, like many others, attended the Rick Springfield concert. The afternoon show, which was scheduled for 4:00 pm, was rained out. The next performance was at 8 p.m., and during that show, as planned, Mr. Springfield ventured into the audience, walking upon chairs as he performed. At some point, he reached the area where Ms. Calcagno was standing. With one foot on her chair and the other positioned on a plastic railing that separated different seating areas, Mr. Springfield, after being jostled by the audience, “lost his balance,” causing his “butt” to strike Ms. Calcagno, knocking her down and causing her head to hit the hard ground.

Some castigated Ms. Calcagno for having the temerity to sue Mr. Springfield in what was labeled an “obvious attempt by a welfare woman seeking money.” To begin with, Vicki Calcagno is not on welfare. Rather, she is an educated woman, the mother of a 13-year-old girl, and, prior to 2004, was consistently employed in the finance industry. While Mr. Springfield is viewed by many as a “rock star,” having had the opportunity to meet and observe him, I can say that, underneath this persona, he is just a regular person, a very nice gentleman who, like all of us, is capable of a lapse in judgment. What then was this lapse in judgment? Thanks to your posts, an eyewitness surfaced who confirmed Ms. Calcagno was not lying and disclosed that she too was knocked down by Mr. Springfield.

Contrary to his regular protocol, Mr. Springfield admitted that prior to this show, neither he nor anyone on his behalf tested the seating or the railing to ensure their stability. In fact, the plastic railing was not only “flimsy,” but also wet due to the prior rain and overall dampness of the night, conditions which Mr. Springfield acknowledged could potentially make it difficult for him to maintain his balance while being jostled. Stated differently, Mr. Springfield knowingly ventured into the audience under conditions he knew posed a potential threat of harm.

Some castigated Ms. Calcagno for making up the whole story, especially since she did not report the incident at the time it happened. However, thanks to your posts, an eyewitness surfaced who not only confirmed that Ms. Calcagno was not lying, but also disclosed that she too was knocked down by Mr. Springfield. Of note, she too did not report the incident, and she neither knew Ms. Calcagno nor had ever spoken to her.

Others castigated Ms. Calcagno for remaining at the concert and not immediately obtaining medical care despite being “knocked out.” While Ms. Calcagno did testify that she was unconscious, as is often the case with those who sustain concussions (an injury for which she received a medical diagnosis and, to date, still receives treatment), Ms. Calcagno’s perception of being unconscious was more likely disorientation, a state that often feels longer than it really is, resolves without further immediate symptoms, and which is the accepted medical definition of a “concussion.” What was not reported in the media was that Ms. Calcagno experienced symptoms the following day (which was a Sunday) and sought medical attention on Monday. She also notified officials at the State Fair about the accident via e-mail, seeking a way to contact Mr. Springfield’s representatives. After repeated unsuccessful attempts to elicit a response from officials, Ms. Calcagno retained the services of a lawyer.

With respect to the lawsuit being filed three years after the incident, after being medically diagnosed with injuries that resulted in her inability to return to work, hoping to work out an amicable resolution to their dispute, Ms. Calcagno’s former lawyers delayed commencing suit as long as possible before the expiration of the three-year statute of limitations. With respect to a trial nine years after the incident, what must be understood is that, to the dismay of litigants, attorneys and the Court, litigation often takes a long time. Schedules and court availability, among other things, must be taken into account. Mr. Springfield himself was only able to appear for a deposition in 2008, and only because he was performing at a local venue. Additionally, while the parties were ready for trial 18 months ago, for reasons beyond anyone’s control, including that of the Judge, the trial was not able to take place until November 2013.

In conclusion, the point of this letter is to discuss the dangers and injustice that often occur when one rushes to judgment without knowing the facts. Whether in this forum, or with employment, or even with parenting, judging a book by its cover without reading its contents will always lead to a misunderstanding of the book.

On behalf of Ms. Calcagno, I wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season.