Mike Ness Insurance Reps Sue to Get Out of ‘Willful’ Concert Assault Lawsuit

Mike Ness of Social Distortion in Sacramento - Courtesy
Mike Ness of Social Distortion in Sacramento - Courtesy


New York Marine and General Insurance Co. have filed suit against Mike Ness of Social Distortion, asking a California federal court to declare it doesn’t need to defend the musician in a suit alleging he attacked a patron during a concert.

The insurance company says the California law is “unequivocal” in that general liability insurance such as the policy bought by Ness’ record label doesn’t cover willful and deliberate acts. The story was reported by Law360.

Ness, his record label Crime Don’t Pay, and his merch company Black Kat Kustoms, have been sued by Timothy Hildebrand of Galt, Calif., alleging assault. Hildebrand said while he was at a Social Distortion concert in July of 2018 in Sacramento, he was invited to the stage and then was spit on by Ness while Ness’ security kept him from defending himself.

The insurer added that the policy bought by Crime Don’t Pay specifically does not provide coverage for assault and battery allegations.

In court papers, Hildebrand said Ness was making anti-conservative and political statements at the concert and Hildebrand said he didn’t come to the concert to hear “political views.”  At that point Ness brought Hildebrand close to the stage and jumped off the stage and attacked him.

NY Marine is providing Ness and the other defendants in the case with defense funding with a stipulation that the company would have the right to reimbursement.

Additionally, while the complaint says Ness is listed as an additional insured on Crime Don’t Pay’s policy, he is only considered such when doing business as Black Kat Kustoms, while at the time of the incident he was not.

In related news, Social Distortion has started selling Skelly shirts promoting social distancing the proceeds from which go to COVID-19 charities, according to the Orange County Register.

Ness said he noticed his Skelly the skeleton mascot appearing in memes online wearing a mask and bearing the slogan “Social Distancing,” and he used the idea.

“I learned how to deal with bootleggers in Italy, where it’s totally legal for them to set up booths out in front of your shows and sell merchandise,” Ness told the Register. “I would go out and take pictures of them and I’d steal their ideas. Sometimes they had good ideas! That’s a great way to combat that. In this case, these guys may have beat me to the punch, but it’s still my image and we can do something better.”