As the story goes, Oakland, CA-based avant-rap outfit Subtle was driving through Iowa in 2005 when its Ford tour van hit a patch of black ice and flipped over. The incident led to the paralysis of band founder and keyboardist Dax Pierson, due to his seat breaking loose and slamming his head into the roof of the van. He suffered multiple fractures of the spine.
Pierson—who cannot use his arms or legs, but still contributed to last year's ExitingARM by using Ableton Live—sued Ford, and, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report, has been awarded $18.3 million in damages. $12.3 million of that is designated for medical expenses, while the other $6 million goes towards "pain and suffering."
Although Ford, at the trial, denied that the van was defectively designed, Pierson's lawyer, Thomas Brandi, claimed that "the main problem was the seat. If the attachment didn't fail, Dax would have been just like the others, uninjured." A jury deemed the negligence to be on the side of the car company, not the band or its managers.
Pierson continues to make music, with the aid of equipment and computers, but currently requires 24-hour care.
Dax Pierson (right), with Subtle member Adam "Doseone" Drucker. Photo by Mathew Scott.