Even those who didn’t know who Travis Scott was have now heard of him and the mass casualty event his Astroworld Festival caused in Houston, Texas on November 5, 2021. Scott is known to incite violent activity at his concerts, urging fans to swarm the stage, mosh together, and even jump from heights, all of which have caused previous severe injuries including paralysis. So why did Live Nation and the City of Houston allow this event of over 50,000 people to take place at NRG Park? It was the third such festival in series, the prior two of which drew large, rowdy crowds, and injuries were reported, so it’s not like those promoting and planning the event were unaware of the possibilities, So, why were the security and logistical planning so inadequate? And, who can be held legally liable for the Astroworld concert injuries and deaths?
Hundreds of lawsuits have already been filed in Texas seeking damages for physical injuries and sadly deaths of young people who only went out to see one of their favorite performers put on a concert, trying to have fun and share in an experience many of us have enjoyed time and again. In the lawsuits, Travis Scott is accused of encouraging dangerous behavior that led to 10 deaths (including two teenagers and a 10-year-old), at least 23 hospitalizations, and over 300 being injured and treated on site. Scott openly prides himself on having ferocious and even violent shows with high energy and disdain for safety and rules. Scott has previously been arrested twice for disorderly conduct and inciting a riot for encouraging concertgoers to ignore security and storm the stage at his shows and his actual musical lyrics call for violence at his shows. As one crowd control expert, Stanley Kephart, who was the security administrator for the Olympics said, “Travis Scott has a history and a background that identifies him as being an inciter of acts that by their very nature are a public endangerment.”
As Time reports, “videos from early in the day Friday showed young concertgoers rushing through the barricades,” which should have signaled to those running things on site that this festival was destined for disaster; however, no one even batted an eye. Even once it became clear that people were suffering, it took hours for an ambulance to get through to those in need and once it did, attendees could be seen dancing on top of it. There was no effort put into saving lives, into defusing the chaos, into protecting those who paid to attend and expected simple safety in return. While concertgoers screamed at Scott and others in positions of power to stop the show as they watched their fellow attendees passing out and even dying, their cries fell on deaf ears. The Houston police chief even admitted that officials were too worried about stopping the show being a reason for inciting even more violence among an already wound-up crowd.
Liability For Astroworld Festival Injuries and Deaths
While previous concert deaths at events where other acts performed did not involve artist liability, this event is different for many reasons – Travis Scott did not just perform at the Astroworld Music Festival, he organized and supervised it. He was warned by local officials about crowd control and safety concerns in person and did nothing about it. While Scott should be held accountable for his actions, other performers including Drake are named in the lawsuits but do not have as significant of potential liability exposure since they were only there to perform and not part of the planning or execution of the event itself.
Live Nation and a local promoter ScoreMore, festival location NRG Park, a security contractor called Contemporary Services Corporation, a management company, and the Harris County government bodies involved in managing the event are all being sued and all have significant potential liability exposure for the resulting injuries and deaths. In addition to civil liability for financial damages, the Houston police have also opened up a corresponding criminal investigation but have yet to file any charges. Local promoter ScoreMore is also named as a defendant in many of the lawsuits; and, along with Live Nation, this company was responsible for planning, staffing, promoting, securing permits, finding vendors, and generally all of the logistics that go into executing an event like this. As such, both Live Nation and ScoreMore’s liability exposure seems very broad and very significant. While the legal precedent of holding artists accountable is rare, that is not the case for promoters who have been held liable. Live Nation itself has already been in repeated trouble, subject to multiple fines levied by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) including a $50 million settlement over a 2011 stage collapse that killed seven people.
As you can see from this article alone, the number of potentially responsible parties and the extent of the potential liability exposure for each is very complicated and will require the immediate and intense involvement of experienced personal injury lawyers. If you or someone you know were injured or killed at the Astroworld event, you should reach out to a lawyer as soon as possible to ensure you do not waive or lose your legal rights to file a claim due to time limitations that may be imposed by law or by contract.