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Collapsing Stage Ends Opera Singer's Career

David Montague-Rendall, a world renowned British opera singer, was performing as the Principal Tenor in the opera Aida at the Royal Danish Theatre in April 2005. He suffered multiple serious injuries when falling debris from the stage began to collapse on him, causing him to fall 15 feet to the ground.

As a result of shattering his left hip, plus damage to both of his shoulders and left knee, sadly Mr Montague-Rendall began to see bookings slow down, and opera companies voiced their concerns about his ability to perform at the same standard as before.

The Royal Theatre’s owners (The Danish Ministry of Culture) acknowledged responsibility for the accident, but refused to accept the level of income generated by his operatic appearances. Mr Montague-Rendall therefore instructed international specialists at law firm Irwin Mitchell in his battle for justice, after his life was turned upside down by his injuries.

“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 received some recompense, it is insignificant considering the fact that his career has been ruined and he was forced to sell his house."

Mr Montague-Rendall’s existing mild osteoarthritis to his left knee had worsened as a result of the fall and he had to undergo a total left knee joint replacement in October 2005.  This 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 issued court proceedings in Denmark on his behalf.

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