Trenton has received at least 20 tort claim notices in connection with the shootings at “Art All Night,” where one person was killed and 22 others were wounded.
In what was reported to be a dispute among three people in attendance, shots broke out in the middle of the event, which featured muralists, glass-blowing, live music, and food and beverages.
The group that sponsored the event, Art Works Trenton, has refused to comply with Trenton’s demand for indemnity and defense, according to the suit.
Art Works Trenton agreed to obtain $1 million in general liability coverage and $2 million in aggregate coverage when it leased the city-owned Roebling Wireworks building to accommodate the event. But Art Works and others who helped put on the event “have failed and/or refused to respond to the city’s demand for coverage,” according to the suit, filed Feb. 1 in Mercer County Superior Court by J. Brooks DiDonato of Parker McCay in Mount Laurel on behalf of Trenton.
The suit seeks a declaratory judgment identifying all parties owing it indemnity, defense or insurance coverage in connection with Art All Night and the related claims, identifying all insurance policies under which it is entitled to coverage, and all parties who were careless, negligent or otherwise failed to obtain appropriate coverage in connection with the event.
Besides Art Works Trenton, the suit names as defendants MR Party Management, a security contractor; Lloyd’s of London; Zodiac Insurance Co., a broker in Shamong; and Bretton Woods International, an insurance broker in London.
The tort claim notices filed with Trenton allege liability on its part for general negligence, negligent security and negligent provision of police services. The lease entitles Trenton to indemnity and defense from Art Works for any such claims and obligates Art Works to obtain the insurance coverage identified in the contract, the suit claims.
The suit contends that if the court determines that the city is not entitled to insurance and a defense under a policy obtained by Art Works, it is because of the negligence, carelessness or intentional failure of the defendants to secure appropriate coverage.
A call to Art Works was referred to its executive director, Lauren Otis, who was not available.
Stephen Slusher, president of Art Works’ board of trustees, didn’t return a call.
David Wash, president of Zodiac Insurance Services, declined to comment. Lloyds of London spokeswoman Charlotte Greene said her company did not comment on litigation.
Representatives of the other defendants did not respond to requests for comment.
DiDonato, Trenton’s lawyer, did not return a call about the case.
Authorities said 17 of those injured sustained gunshot wounds, and five others were injured trying to escape the violence. Three men were identified by police as the shooters, including Tahaij Wells, 32, who was shot and killed. Two others were indicted in connection with the shootings in September 2018: Amir Armstrong, 24, was indicted on one count of unlawful possession of a weapon and one count of receiving stolen property; and Davone White, 27, was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and two counts of aggravated assault.