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Scales of Justice

The former operator of the Testicle Festival, who had been scheduled to be in court last week to discuss damages stemming from a fatal accident after the event two years ago, has filed for bankruptcy.

Matthew Powers was sued in 2018 by a woman who survived a fatal crash on Interstate 90 the year before, when James Bayford allegedly grabbed the steering wheel of a shuttle taking people back to Missoula after the festival and jerked it, causing the rollover that killed two people.

That civil case largely sat idle in Missoula County District Court until earlier this year, when a judge entered default against Powers for not responding to the woman's litigation. However, a May 13 hearing to decide the damages Powers owes the woman was rescheduled after she learned of his bankruptcy filing. 

The woman, who suffered severe injuries in the crash, according to the civil complaint, has asked for the damages hearing to be vacated to determine how the bankruptcy affects her ability to collect damages. She is among those listed as creditors in the bankruptcy. Her attorney did not return a phone call for comment on Friday.

Records show Powers is facing an estimated debt of between $1 million and $10 million, with assets below $1 million. 

He has listed the Rock Creek property where the festival was held as collateral, although it is identified as hazardous, according to the bankruptcy filings: "Environmental pollution due to dumped oil on the location, as well as underground gas tanks, at least one of which is believed to have cracked. Property is uninsurable."

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A phone number for Powers could not be located Friday.

Bayford, meanwhile, is scheduled for trial on July 15 on two counts of negligent homicide and six counts of criminal endangerment. The families of the two victims, 33-year-old Vanessa Anderson and 36-year-old Donny Barlow, have also been granted a default judgement against Bayford in their respective civil cases against him, Rock Creek Entertainment and others. 

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