Former HANOI ROCKS Bassist Sues NYC Venue, MTV Over Injury

May 15, 2004

Former HANOI ROCKS and current JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS bassist Sam Yaffa (real name Sami Takamaki) has filed an $85 million lawsuit against Roseland Ballroom, MTV Corp. and others, saying his hands and career were hurt when ballroom bouncers jumped him while he was fending off a purse snatcher, according to the Associated Press.

Takamaki, 40, says in court papers that he was at an MTV-sponsored Iggy Pop concert at Roseland on Aug. 7, 2003, when a man tried to snatch his girlfriend's purse. Court papers identified the man as Ian Mackee, a 39-year-old electrician from Brooklyn.

Takamaki and girlfriend Karmen Guy were in the front row balcony of the West 52nd Street ballroom when Mackee attacked them, hitting them in their faces and bodies and grabbing Guy's purse, all while the concert was going on, court papers say.

"Mackee was pushing and shoving Guy in such a manner that she almost fell out of the balcony," court papers say. They say Mackee also kicked Guy in the leg, causing her to fall to the balcony's floor, and then kicked her in the ribs.

When bouncers arrived to break up the fight, court papers say, they thought Takamaki was the "bad guy," said the guitarist's lawyer Stuart R. Shaw, "and they beat the living daylights out of him."

The bouncers stopped and helped Takamaki up when onlookers told them they had the wrong man, court papers say.

Takamaki "suffered permanent nerve damage and his career as a professional rock and roll musician for JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS has been interrupted since Aug. 27, 2003, and may be permanently affected," court papers say.

Shaw said Takamaki, a native of Finland and a musician for more than 20 years, has sought medical attention for his injuries and has tried to work in spite of them. "He's out there trying to play but he's not playing like he used to," the lawyer said.

Because of his disability, Shaw said, "He's lost all of his studio work" with Jett and other musicians. Jett's website says Takamaki joined her group in January 2003.

Mackee, who was working for the electrical company responsible for lighting in the ballroom, was arrested and charged, Edison Alban of the Manhattan district attorney's office said.

Alban said Mackee pleaded guilty to attempted robbery on March 29 and was sentenced to 45 days in jail and five years probation.

A man who answered the telephone at the electrical company named in court papers as a defendant and as Mackee's employer, Event Lights New Jersey, refused to respond to questions and hung up.

Roseland and MTV did not return calls for comment.

Takamaki's lawsuit, which alleges negligence, assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, asks a total of $17 million in compensatory and punitive damages from each of five named defendants.

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