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Puffy Found Guilty in Stampede Case [1999-01-12]

Associated Press [New Jersey Star-Ledger]
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NEW YORK (AP) — Sean “Puffy” Combs and rapper Heavy D are 50 percent responsible for a stampede at a party that left nine people dead in 1991, a state judge has ruled.

The City College of New York, where the party was held in a gymnasium, bears the rest of the responsibility, Court of Claims Judge Louis Benza ruled Dec. 31.

The people were killed when fans rushed a celebrity basketball game and party sponsored by Combs. One of those injured, Nicole Levy, 25, filed the lawsuit.

Benza said school officials knew the event was oversold and failed to provide adequate supervision of the crowd in part by abandoning security responsibility to Combs.

The judge said Combs’ security people closed the only door to the gym and propped a table behind it to make sure only those who had paid could enter — despite the tragedy that unfolded.

“Their pounding and their cries for help did not dissuade Combs’ people from closing the door, precipitating the eventual deaths and injuries that occurred,” Benza wrote.

A lawyer for Combs, a producer and rapper, said the judge only has jurisdiction over public agencies and institutions, so the ruling has no practical effect on Combs and Heavy D, whose real name is Dwight Myers.

Levy’s lawyer, Peter De Filippis, said he is trying to settle the case. Combs’ attorney said his client had no comment on settlement talks.