Band Director Injured at NEIU Sues Over Injuries


Ralph Wilder with clarinet. Sent by Jeff Wilder – Used with permission.

Amaris E. Rodriguez, Opinions Editor

Ralph Wilder, founder of the Rolling Meadows-based Northwest Concert Band, is suing Chicago Flyhouse, Inc. for injuries sustained during an incident at NEIU last spring.

On May 6, 2018 during a rehearsal with the Chicago Clarinet Ensemble, a metal frame holding the projection screen fell from the ceiling, pinning Wilder to the floor at NEIU’s Recital Hall. The injuries he sustained left him permanently paralyzed.

The lawsuit is against Chicago Flyhouse, Inc., rigging specialists, who according to the suit filed by Wilder’s attorney Kevin Durkin, repaired and maintained the hoisting and screening system at NEIU for about five years prior to the incident.

According to the Daily Herald, the suit seeks more than $50,000 in damages due to “Chicago Flyhouse’s ‘improper’ repairs to the screen hoisting system and failure to test its ‘full functionality’ before the accident.”

Attorney Edric Bautista, from Sanchez Daniels & Hoffman, the firm representing Chicago Flyhouse Inc. in the suit, said to the Independent when reached out for comment, “As this matter is currently in litigation, we cannot comment on the facts or circumstances of the case. We believe, however, that, after all the facts are revealed in this case, they will show that Chicago Flyhouse is not responsible for the incident involving Mr. Wilder. We cannot provide any further comments.”

Wilder has since returned to NEIU after the accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down. In Dec. 2018, Wilder performed his clarinet at the fundraiser held in his honor. Wilder had to relearn how to play with half his former lung capacity, according to WGN News.

“You can take his physical abilities away from him. You can’t take the maestro that he is away from him,” Jeff Wilder, his son, said to WGN News.

Jeff Wilder provided the following statement to the Independent on Jan 16 regarding the suit filed, “We checked with our legal counsel and have been advised not to do any interviews at this time.”

Wilder’s son runs a page on the CaringBridge website updating members on his father’s condition. The last update on Dec 4, 2018 provided information to the Benefit Concert hosted by the Chicago Clarinet Ensemble with a link to Ralph Wilder’s GoFundMe page where donations are being accepted to provide further care.

In an interview with the Daily Herald, Durkin stated, “He’s at home undergoing therapy, doing his best to improve, but he’s a paraplegic who needs 24-hour care.”

NEIU’s Director of Public Relations and Web Communications Mike Hines declined to comment regarding NEIU’s involvement in the lawsuit and their partnership with Chicago Flyhouse, Inc.