Band's donation fails to clean up its image after bus dumping incident

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The Independent Culture

One of America's most popular rock acts has been sued by a woman who was drenched in human excrement after the lavatory on the band's tour bus was emptied over a bridge.

One of America's most popular rock acts has been sued by a woman who was drenched in human excrement after the lavatory on the band's tour bus was emptied over a bridge.

The woman, who was celebrating her 43th birthday on a river cruise below, said in her lawsuit that she was soaked in "brownish-yellow liquid human waste" that caused her to retch and vomit.

Nancy Todor is seeking unspecified damages from the Dave Matthews Band over the incident which happened in August when the band's bus was stopped on the Kinzie Street bridge in Chicago. The band was apparently not on the bus at the time and the driver, Stefan Wohl, allegedly decided it would be a good opportunity to empty the coach's 100 gallon tank.

But while Mr Wohl was allegedly emptying the lavatory tank, Ms Todor was passing beneath the bridge on a cruise along the Chicago river on board the First Lady. In her lawsuit filed this week, Ms Todor said she became "physically ill and extremely nauseous" after being hit by the downpour from above, which took almost two minutes to empty.

In a previous complaint by the local authorities, it was claimed that dozens of people on the boat were struck by the waste. Among those enjoying the cruise were disabled passengers, a pregnant woman, a young child and an infant. The complaint said: "The liquid human waste went into passengers' eyes, mouths, hair and on to clothing and personal belongings - many of which were soaked."

Though it is understood that police have video surveillance from the scene, neither members of the band nor Mr Wohl have been charged with any criminal offence. The group, whose albums include Crash and Under the Table and Dreaming, had hired five buses for a series of gigs in neighbouring Wisconsin.

Last month, by way of compensation, the band donated $100,000 (£53,000) towards Chicago's river restoration projects. In a statement issued at the time, the group said: "If we are the responsible party, we offer our deepest apologies to the passengers on the boat, the City of Chicago, our fans and those who have worked so hard to clean the river."

When asked about the lawsuit, a spokesman for the band said none of the members had yet seen the complaint. In the statement on its website, the band - which considers itself so environmentally friendly that Ben and Jerry's, the "green" ice cream maker, named one of its flavours after them - said: "This incident has been especially troubling for the Dave Matthews Band family ... Until the facts are better understood we have suspended the driver, who was the only person on the bus during the time in question. The driver continues to steadfastly deny any involvement in the incident."

Ms Todor, from Elmhurst, a suburb of Chicago, was unavailable for comment yesterday. She had suggested the band should play a private concert for all the passengers on the boat.

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