By now, everyone in the Bay Area should be familiar with the case of Dax Pierson--keyboard player for Anticon offshoot Subtle, Amoeba record employee, and all around laid-back individual. Back in 2005, Pierson and the band were rolling through deep red state territory--Iowa--when the band's tour van hit a patch of black ice.
Unluckiness turned to tragedy in the moments that followed. The van rolled. Pierson's seat came loose. He slammed headfirst onto the roof, instantly paralyzing him. No one else in the car sustained more than a bump or a bruise.
Pierson sued Ford for faulty design mechanics, arguing that the defective seat contributed to his life-threatening injuries. The automaker denied that claim, blaming excessive speed for the near-fatal accident. On Wednesday, as reported in the Chron, a jury of 12 sided with Pierson, awarding him a total of 18.3 million dollars for medical expenses, pain, and suffering.
The settlement money won't restore the use of Pierson's arms and legs--he's a quadriplegic, probably for the rest of his life. But it should at least allow him to live a reasonably comfortable, relatively pain-free life. And, needless to say, it certainly could help Anticon's independent efforts. Maybe now Subtle can actually afford some nice equipment. Or a decent recording studio. Or to buy a meal every now and then. Or an actual haircut.
All joking aside, this victory represents a huge moral comeuppance for the Bay Area music scene, and for the underdog in general. Where major labels initially refused to cooperate with Anticon's subversive, futuristic, and sometimes anti-commercial ideas--Subtle is currently signed to Lex and distributed through EMI--now, through the nebulous hands of fate, their efforts have been validated by A Big Payoff From the Man, in an entirely ironic way. That's called doing it the hard way, going against the grain, for real. Salutes all around to Dax, and also to all the folks who paid cover charges, sent well-wishing cards, played benefits and otherwise helped Pierson cover medical expenses.