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Dave Matthews Band settles waste lawsuit

Band’s bus dumped human waste on a tourist boat in Chicago
/ Source: The Associated Press

The Dave Matthews Band, settling a lawsuit stemming from human waste dumped from a tour bus onto people touring the Chicago River, has agreed to pay $200,000 to an environmental fund and take measures to avoid a repeat of the incident, the Illinois attorney general said Friday.

The bus was crossing a bridge last summer when the waste poured through metal grates onto the open deck of an architectural tour boat carrying more than 100 passengers. The agreement with Attorney General Lisa Madigan does not settle several personal-injury lawsuits that also have been filed.

The band agreed to record when and where its tour buses empty septic tanks.

Last month, driver Stefan Wohl was sentenced to probation and community service after he pleaded guilty to reckless conduct and discharging contaminates to cause water pollution. Band spokesman John Vlautin said Wohl has been fired.

“Although the band members were not on the bus when the incident took place, we have always said that if it was our bus we would take responsibility for what happened,” Vlautin said. “That is exactly what we’re doing today.”

The lawsuit alleged violations of state environmental laws, and the settlement is to go into a fund for environmental protection and other projects. The band had already donated $50,000 to Friends of the Chicago River and $50,000 to the Chicago Park District.

“This settlement is reasonable and appropriate given the public and environmental health threats caused by this foul incident,” Madigan said.

After the incident, the tour boat returned to dock, where it was disinfected, and the Chicago Architectural Foundation offered the passengers refunds. Authorities said there were no reports that anyone developed infections or diseases.