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Legal 500 (2016)

02/08/2010

A world renowned British opera singer who blames a serious accident on stage for the end of his career and the subsequent loss of his home has vowed to continue his battle for justice in the Danish Courts.

David Montague-Rendall (David Rendall professionally), 61, from Brockenhurst, Hampshire, was performing as Principal tenor in the opera Aida at a performance in the new Royal Danish Theatre in April 2005 when falling debris from the stage, which was collapsing on top of him, caused him to fall 15 feet to the ground leaving him with multiple serious injuries.

Having shattered his left hip and damaged both shoulders and left knee Mr Montague-Rendall began to see bookings dry up as opera companies voiced concerns about his ability to perform at the same standard as before. He has now instructed International specialists at law firm Irwin Mitchell and vows to continue his battle for justice at court after the Royal Theatre’s owners, the Danish Ministry of Culture, although acknowledging responsibility for the accident, have refused to  accept the level of income generated by his operatic appearances.  These injuries have turned his life upside down.

“During the performance two stage levels are raised to give the impression that I am underground in a tomb”, Mr Montague-Rendall explained.  “On this night the stage above went sideways instead of up, resulting in the destruction of the set that I was in and I was showered in debris.  I was knocked down at least 15 feet and tried to crawl to safety to avoid being crushed. I tried to take refuge in the wings where it was very dark and there was no one around to help. I had carried an oil rag torch on stage as a prop but I was scared the whole theatre would go up in flames if I dropped it, so I could not let it go until it had extinguished itself.”

His lawyer, Demetrius Danas, a Partner at Irwin Mitchell said: “Mr Montague-Rendall’s life was completely turned upside down because of the injuries he sustained when the stage collapsed.

“The lost earnings for an opera singer of our client’s stature are considerable and, although he has received some recompense, it is insignificant considering the fact that his career has been ruined and he has been forced to sell his house.

“That the defendants have admitted liability and yet refuse to acknowledge the extent of the damage caused is unjust and so Mr Montague-Rendall’s case will now be heard at court in Denmark where we will continue to fight for justice on behalf of our client.”
 
As a result of the fall, Mr Montague-Rendall’s existing mild osteoarthritis to his left knee had worsened, resulting in him undergoing a total left knee joint replacement in October 2005, which followed his total left hip replacement carried out in August of 2005 and subsequently extensive shoulder surgery.

The Royal Danish Theatre is a state body and owned by the Danish Ministry of Culture.  They admitted liability for the fall in March 2006, 11 months after the accident, and made a statutory payment to Mr Montague-Rendall under Danish health and safety law.  Irwin Mitchell has now issued court proceedings in Denmark on his behalf.

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