Reggae Legend Says He's Broke and Depressed After Richmond Injury 

click to enlarge Frederick “Toots” Hibbert

Ned Oliver

Frederick “Toots” Hibbert

Reggae legend Frederick “Toots” Hibbert says he’s destitute and depressed — a “shadow of himself” — after a drunken Richmond man threw a vodka bottle that hit the performer during a concert on Brown’s Island two years ago.

Jamaican psychiatrist Winston De La Haye diagnosed Hibbert with major depressive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, according to new legal filings.

“He had a downward gaze and his affect became suddenly sad when he reported that for the first time in many years he was experiencing what it feels like to be broke and unable to support his family financially,” the psychiatrist writes.

The report is attached to a motion filed last month requesting that Richmond Circuit Court Judge Margaret P. Spencer move up the trial date in Hibbert’s $20 million civil suit against Venture Richmond.

The trial is scheduled to take place over five days in September. A hearing on the change of date request is scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Hibbert, 72, the frontman of Toots and Maytals, filed the lawsuit in August 2013, three months after a 1.75-liter Grey Goose bottle struck him in the forehead while he performed “Country Roads” during a concert that coincided with the Dominion Riverrock Festival.

Hibbert says he’s been unable to rehearse or perform since the incident and has difficulty recalling lyrics to his songs.

In December 2013, a judge convicted the 21-year-old bottle thrower, William Connor Lewis, of assault and battery. He served a six-month jail sentence.

Hibbert’s psychiatrist writes in his medical report that Hibbert is embarrassed by his financial difficulties, and that his brother is “considering selling some of his possessions in order to provide him with some financial assistance.”

Hibbert, known as a happy and upbeat performer, is being treated for depression and insomnia for the first time, the psychiatrist writes: “Mr. Hibbert … stated that he has started to feel that ‘dis whole ting have me,’ which translates to feeling defeated in the English language.”

Hibbert’s lawsuit accuses concert organizers of negligence for failing to provide adequate security to prevent someone from bringing a bottle in or taking it from the beverage tent.

Initially, the suit also named Richmond Sports Backers and Strawberry Street Event and Concessions as defendants. A judge granted those organizations’ motion to have the claims against them dismissed. Hibbert has a separate $21 million claim pending against Lewis, though Hibbert’s lawyer said that likely will be joined with the suit against Venture Richmond.

Venture Richmond has filed motions saying that it had no duty to warn or protect Hibbert unless the organization “knew of an imminent probability of harm,” which it says it didn’t.

Venture Richmond lawyers cite a Supreme Court of Virginia ruling that revised a jury verdict in a wrongful death claim related to the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting. The court found that Virginia Tech couldn’t be held liable for failing to warn students that a gunman was on campus because “It cannot be said that it was known or reasonably foreseeable that the students … would fall victim to criminal harm.”


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