Lawsuits are piling up less than a week after the deadly crowd at the Astroworld concert, and legal experts say the risk increases that juries could decide against rapper Travis Scott and the companies behind him. tragic event in Houston.
Several legal experts told The Associated Press that Scott’s past incitement of concert goers offers a story that could facilitate prosecution of malpractice lawsuits against companies that planned and they administered the show, burning eight people and injuring hundreds. And although investigations have just begun, experts expect dozens more lawsuits for damages that could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars.
At the center of the legal vortex is Scott, a 30 rapper famous for whipping fanciers in a frenzy who pleaded guilty to misdemeanors related to the upheaval of crowds at previous concerts. .
This alerts everyone: ‘This is what has happened, and there’s no reason why it can’t happen again,’ said John Werner, a Beaumont, Texas, attorney who is not involved in the Astroworld cases. “They know this is a situation that can get out of control.”
“This tragedy took months, if not years, to develop,” wrote Houston attorney Steve Kherkher in a lawsuit demanding more than $ 1 million for a man trampled on in the melee, which he said was “predictable and preventable” given the rapper’s story.
More than a dozen have come forward so far. Lawsuits against Scott and several companies, including entertainment giant Live Nation, concert promoter ScoreMore, a nonprofit organization that runs the Houston-owned venue. The complaints allege that organizers failed to take simple crowd-control measures , hired staff appropriately and did not act at the first signs of trouble at the concert with and Sold out tickets at NRG Park that attracted 50, 000 fans.
“The way that the concert was set up, planned and organized and the way things were handled once there was a problem is mind boggling. ” dozens of victims. including Axel Acosta, aged 21, who died.
Buzbee’s press conference was broadcast directly to the court of public opinion, with that of an opening statement complete with pitch slides and video clips. hurried past the metal and security detectors through a fence.
Any security they had was totally insufficient, said former federal prosecutor Philip Hilder, a Houston attorney No event from Astroworld participated in. “The crowd passed directly.”
Hilder also criticized the 56 page planning document of the event, which was presented to the city for approval. He said the plans were “standard,” with very little detail on the security of the parking lot where the performance took place. illos or pens to contain the crowd seats.
The planning document, obtained by The Associated Press and shared with Hilder, mentions the possibility of tornadoes, bomb threats, active shooters, civil disobedience and riots, but does not mention a possible surge of crowds.
Several attorneys say the litigation is also likely centered on an unexplained delay between when city officials declared a ” mass casualties “and when the concert organizers finally stopped the show, an interval of 37 minutes during which the fans kept pushing onto the stage, collapsing. and get crushed.
The gang went on and on long after the problem existed, said Frank Branson, a Dallas personal injury attorney. audience, safety and well-being. “
It is unclear what Scott could see from the stage as his fans were pushed, beaten, immobilized, trampled, and some screaming to stop the show.
In a video posted on social media, Scott is seen at one point stopping the music, pointing to the audience and asking for someone’s help: “Security, someone help, jump really fast.”
In an Instagram post on Saturday, the rapper said he was “devastated” by the deaths and suggested he was unaware of the butchery below him.
Every time I can understand what’s going on, I stop the program and help them get the help they need, he said, “I could never imagine the seriousness of the situation.”
L Scott’s representatives did not respond to an AP email seeking comment Tuesday.
Scott is famous for encouraging fans to ignore safety and mass surfing and dive into the stage. in the mosh pit below him. A commercial for this year’s Astroworld event, since it was removed from YouTube, shows fans breaking through barricades and storming the concert grounds at the 2019 event.
In 2015, Chicago officials said Scott encouraged fans of the Lollapalooza music festival to jump over the security barricades. The rapper was sentenced to one year of supervision. After pleading guilty to reckless conduct charges.
In 2017, Scott was arrested after he encouraged fans to bypass security and take the stage during a concert in Arkansas, leaving a security guard, a police officer, and several others injured. Scott faced multiple felony charges. s minors, including inciting a riot. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and paid a fine.
Scott is also being sued by a concert goer who says he was partially paralyzed when he pushed from a third-floor balcony at a concert in New York City in 2017, an incident that the man claimed happened after Scott encouraged people to jump.
Dallas attorney Ellen Presby said Scott’s past would help bring a case against him, but his defense would likely be to argue that he is just an actor who leaves the security details to other people, Whatever harder to blame I will do.
Defense attorneys will argue that what he does is get on stage and do his thing and everything is set up for him, he said. He added, “I would try to find facts that he was as shocked and horrified as everyone else.”
Houston attorney CJ Ba ker said that a criminal offense against Scott is possible given his behavior before filing, but it would be a tough case because he would have to establish an intention, not just an oversight.
He would have to show that he acted in a He knew what was going on and acted that way anyway, he said. That’s a much bigger and steeper hill to climb than the lawsuits.
Houston attorney Joel Androphy said that most law firms are likely to focus on civil lawsuits that accumulate defendants’ resources to pay large damages.
Aside from Scott, the biggest legal target is Live Nation, a publicly traded company whose shares have soared as fans rush to more concerts and festivals now that many pandemic restrictions have been lifted. The company has declined to comment on what went wrong, but released a statement on Tuesday. Monday that he is helping the police with a criminal investigation and “abo deal with all legal matters at the appropriate time. “
The company reported it had $ 4.6 billion cash as of September in. Its shares fell less than 1% on Tuesday afternoon after falling more 5% the day before.
Suing Houston and Harris County for negligence would be difficult, since they both enjoy extensive protection under the doctrine of sovereign and governmental immunity, but there are exceptions, said several attorneys.
“For the most part they are protected, but their conduct is seen with a critical eye,” said Houston attorney Randy Sorrels, former president of the Texas State Bar Association.