Lawsuits emerge in wake of deadly Astroworld concert
Lawsuits are emerging in the wake of the deadly crowd surge at the Astroworld concert in Houston that left eight people dead and hundreds more injured, including a 10-year-old boy. Some legal experts believe that rapper Travis Scott’s legal past could leave him at risk.
Scott’s history of encouraging rowdy concerts
At a 2017 concert in Arkansas, Scott was arrested after encouraging fans to bypass security and rush the stage, leaving a security guard, a police officer, and several others injured. In a separate incident, he pled guilty to reckless conduct charges stemming from a 2015 incident at Lollapalooza in Chicago, wherein he encouraged fans to jump security barricades.
At a New York City concert in 2017, a man says he was left partially paralyzed after someone pushed him from a third-floor balcony. He alleges it happened after Scott encouraged people to jump.
This year’s now-deleted ad for Astroworld showed fans breaking through barricades and storming the concert grounds at the 2019 event.
“This tragedy was months, if not years, in the making,” lawyer Steve Kherkher wrote in a lawsuit seeking more than $1 million in damages for a man who was trampled at Astroworld. Kherkher said the tragic event was “predictable and preventable” considering the rapper’s history.
Legal troubles ahead
So far, more than a dozen lawsuits have been filed against Scott and several companies, including Live Nation and concert promoter ScoreMore. The suits claim that organizers acted negligently.
“The way the concert was set up, planned, organized, and the way things were handled once there was a problem, it boggles the mind,” said lawyer Tony Buzbee, who’s representing three dozen victims, including 21-year-old Axel Acosta, who died.
Several attorneys believe the litigation will also focus on an unexplained 37-minute delay between when Houston city officials declared a “mass casualty event” and when Astroworld organizers finally stopped the show.
“The band kept going on and on long after the problem existed,” personal injury lawyer Frank Branson said. “It’s hard to believe that wasn’t a conscious disregard to the audience, to safety and welfare.”
Experts weigh-in on the potential defense
While Scott’s past will likely shape the case against him, Dallas lawyer Ellen Presby said his defense would probably argue that he’s just a performer who outsources the security details to someone else. If she were defending him, Presby would “try to find facts that he was as surprised and horrified as everyone else.”
Presby said Scott’s defense team will likely argue that “what he does is hop on the stage and do his thing, and it’s all set up for him.”
Additionally, Houston lawyer C.J. Baker said it would be difficult to establish intent instead of carelessness.
“You would need to show that he acted in a way that he sort of knew what was happening and acted that way anyway,” Baker said. “That is a much bigger, much steeper hill to climb.”
According to the Associated Press, it’s unclear what the 30-year-old rapper could see from the stage as fans were being pushed and trampled.
Scott posted a statement on the tragedy on his Instagram, saying he was “devasted” by the deaths.
“Anytime I can make out what’s going on, I stop the show and help them get the help they need,” he wrote. “I could just never imagine the severity of the situation.”
Photo by Brandon Dull