Education

Drunk, Pantless Stanford Trumpeter Awarded $300K

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 SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - An insurer wants its money back from an incident in which a Stanford University trumpeter, playing a solo with no pants on, and no underwear either, fell off of a picnic table and was injured, in what, believe it or not, was described as a Stanford tradition.

Hartford Insurance sued Stanford in Federal Court, for the $302,000 the insurer had to pay because a Cardinal trumpeter, allegedly drunk, was hurt when the Stanford band manager tackled him during his pantsless performance.

The lack of pants, apparently, was not the trumpeter's fault.

According to the complaint: "On or about June 1, 2009, on the Stanford campus during a scheduled rehearsal, one of the band's members, Samuel Franco, was consuming alcohol during the band rehearsal and it appeared to the band's manager, Nathan Foorman, that Franco was intoxicated. During the rehearsal, Franco stood up on a picnic table and began performing a trumpet solo. Hartford is informed and believes and based thereon alleges that the Stanford marching band has a tradition in which members take turns attempting to complete a solo performance while the other band members try to distract the soloist.

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This judge looked an inmate square in the eyes and did something that left the entire courtroom in tears:

"In attempting to distract Franco during his solo performance, another student pulled down his pants. Franco was not wearing underwear and was completely exposed from the waist down, but he did not stop performing. As the band manager, Foorman was concerned that the band would be disciplined for drinking during rehearsal because it had been disciplined for alcohol related conduct on previous occasions. Foorman was also concerned because there were children present watching the rehearsal. Foorman yelled at Franco to stop performing and pull up his pants, but Franco did not stop. Foorman then got up on the table, wrapped his arms around Franco and tried to physically remove him from the table. Foorman did not intend to injure Franco. However, Franco fell and was allegedly injured."

Foorman was paid $4,000 a year to manage the band, Hartford says, without clarifying why it pointed that out.

After the incident, Franco's attorney sent Hartford a demand for $589,952.44, the insurer says. Hartford says it repeatedly "tendered the claim to Stanford," with the good-faith belief that Stanford's insurance policies were responsible, at least in part, for payment.

But Stanford "repeatedly refused to participate in the defense of Franco's claim against its band manager Foorman," Hartford says.

On Nov. 1, 2010, Hartford says, it coughed up $302,000, its policy limit, to Franco, but reserved the right to seek reimbursement from Stanford. Franco accepted the offer.

Hartford claims its duties to Foorman are secondary to Stanford's, because the insurance policy "specifically excluded coverage of claims arising from an insured's 'business,' and Hartford is informed and believes and based thereon alleges that the claim arose during Foorman's 'business' as defined by the policy," the complaint states.

Hartford seeks equitable subrogation, equitable indemnity, equitable contribution, costs, and whatever other relief the court deems just and proper.

It is represented by Stephen Hayes with Hayes Scott Bonino Ellingson & McLay, of Redwood City.

From Courthouse News