Erica Mack Discusses Ultra Lawsuit
Security guard Erica Mack is suing Ultra Music Festival and others for $10 million.
Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez
"I suffered two fractures in my skull. A temporal fracture and a fracture at the base of my skull," she tells Crossfade, recalling the condition in which she awoke at Jackson Memorial Hospital, after blacking out during the incident. "There was bleeding on the brain. Also, I had bleeding out of my ear."
And she adds: "I also sustained a multiple break in my leg. They had to perform surgery, and there's metal plates and screws supporting the leg now."
Mack and her attorney Eric Isicoff, founding partner of Isicoff, Ragatz & Koenigsberg.
Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez
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Over the weekend, Mack and her attorney Eric Isicoff announced that she would be suing Ultra and other defendants for $10 million. (Also named in the proceeding are Ultra's parent company Event Entertainment Group, the City of Miami, the Bayfront Park Management Trust, festival contractor Best Beverage Catering, fencing company Carlson Fence, as well as Mack's own employer Contemporary Services Corporation.)
And finally, following seven months of silence, she discussed her ordeal today, as well as the suit.
A lifelong local, Erica Mack was born in the city and raised in North Miami. She went to William H. Turner Technical Arts High School in West Little River. And after graduation, she attended Johnson & Wales University's North Miami campus, where she earned a culinary arts degree. For the next seven years, she worked as a chef.
In late 2013, though, Mack decided that she "wanted something part-time to have extra income." So she got a job with Contemporary Services Corporation, a global company that provides security guards for entertainment and sports events.
At the same time, she was also considering a career change and began working toward becoming a substitute teacher. "But then," she says, "the accident happened."
As for the gatecrashing incident itself, which left her in Jackson Memorial's ICU with the skull fractures and severely broken leg, Mack says she remembers nothing.
"I just remember going to work that day, and then waking up in the hospital," she explains. "I don't remember the actual event happening."
Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez
Before being assigned to Ultra Music Festival, Mack had been with CSC for "about six months," she says. "I worked basketball games at the AAA, hockey games and concerts at the BB&T Center, football games at FAU."
But she had never worked Ultra. "That was my first time," Mack confirms. "My job was to walk around the perimeter, where they placed me, to make sure that people don't get too close to the fence or linger. And if they were to jump the fence, we were not to permit them entry, but we were not to touch or grab them, just call it in and let our supervisors know."
It was there, at SE First Street and Biscayne Boulevard, near the south end of the festival grounds, where Mack would eventually be trampled, almost to death, by the gatecrashers who breached the fences that Ultra's been accused (by city officials and now in Mack's lawsuit) of failing to properly reinforce.
"At the time, I was unconscious," she says. "So I didn't even know that these injuries had occurred. But after the fact, I was told."
Following the incident, Mack was in the hospital for two weeks. She spent the next couple of months in recovery. And then she finally began rehab, which has continued, every week, for the past five months. "I'm working to get range of motion back in my leg. And there's still question of whether I'll ever again achieve the range of motion that I should have."
And "I still get headaches," she adds. "They're severe sometimes."
Today, Mack remains employed by CSC. But she is still unable to work, because of "not being able to sit or stand for long periods of time," she says, "and because of the headaches, I have some concentration difficulties."
Doctors have even advised her to avoid re-enrolling in school, which also delays a return to her pursuit of becoming a teacher.
Mack blames Ultra for creating the circumstances that allowed for this accident. "I personally feel the event holders are responsible," she says. "Ultimately, they were supposed to make sure that employees, as well as guests and customers, were safe, and that meant following protocol and meeting the criteria for fencing and things of that nature."
Of course, her attorney is quick to point out, "The ultimate question of who is legally responsible is what the courts are there to sort out for us. We know who we sued."
Meanwhile, Mack is also dismayed by Ultra continuing to place the blame squarely on the gatecrashers. ("Without question," the festival wrote in a statement issued this weekend in response to the announcement of the $10 million lawsuit, "event organizers believe that the incident was caused by illegal actions of unknown third parties for which it is not responsible.")
"I am disappointed by that," she says, forcefully. "And it's really ridiculous, because they've had this type of event before, and it's a dangerous event, and the crowd it draws is made up of individuals who would potentially do such a thing."
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