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Astroworld Personal Injury Attorney
Older Houstonians remember Astroworld as Houston’s theme park. The park has been shut down for years. However, people have used the former site for various events. On November 5, 2021, it was the site of the Astroworld Festival. That giant music festival hosted thousands of concertgoers. They were there to see various musicians.
One of the headliners was Travis Scott. The rapper Drake was part of his act. To hype up the audience, a timer counted down the minutes before his concert. However, something went wrong in the audience. Excitement turned to nervous energy, which turned to panic. The crowd surged, injuring hundreds of people. Eight people died.
History of Violence at Concerts and Sporting Events
The crowd surge was not an isolated incident. The history of modern concert violence began in 1969 in Altamont. There, four people died at a Rolling Stones concert. In 1971, 66 people died in a stampede at a sporting event. A fire killed 165 people at a Beverly Hills Supper Club concert. Crowds crushed 11 people at a The Who concert in 1979. Another sporting event led to the death of 96 at Hillsborough Stadium in 1989. Denmark’s Roskilde Festival saw 9 deaths in a 2000 stampede. In 2009, 11 died at Rabat’s Mawakine Festival. An overcrowded nightclub led to 100 deaths in a fire at a concert in West Warwick in 2003.
Who Is Responsible?
It is challenging to assign responsibility when a crowd crushes people. Often, the people doing the crushing move with a group to avoid being crushed, themselves. The people who begin the pushing are not usually the ones doing the crushing. They may not even realize anyone is being trampled.
Given the history of crowd-crushing events, people should have known the risk of stampedes or crowd surges. However, who was responsible for minimizing that risk? Some possibilities include
- Live Nation
- NRG Stadium
- NRG Park
- Harris County Sports & Convention Corporation
- Travis Scott
Live Nation and ScoreMore
Live Nation is an event management company. It helped organize the Astroworld Festival. Lawsuits against Live Nation allege that they were negligent. According to concertgoers, there had been stampedes earlier in the festival. When guests entered the park, they trampled over others. Live Nation also failed to stop the concert, even after the crowd surge began.
Live Nation’s history suggests a pattern of negligence regarding safety. Their concerts are frequently unsafe. OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has cited and fined them for multiple safety violations.
ScoreMore is a Texas concert promoter. Live Nation owns them. Lawsuits against them are similar to the lawsuits against Live Nation.
Harris County Sports & Convention Corporation
Media accounts vary in their description of who owns Astroworld. You may hear the owners described as
Currently, Harris County Sports & Convention Corporation owns Astroworld. Six Flags previously held it. The property is part of NRG Park. NRG Park consists of NRG Stadium, the AstroDome, and Astroworld. NRG was formerly known as Reliant Stadium. NRG Park advertised the event on its website.
Lawsuits against NRG Park, NRG Stadium, or the Harris County Sports & Convention Corporation allege negligence. They may have had the duty to protect concertgoers. They also probably have liability insurance to cover events like this.
The crowds were there to see Travis Scott. The Festival was one stop in his massively successful world tour. Scott was selling exclusive merchandise at the Festival, sure to draw a big crowd.
Whether he is liable may depend on what Scott knew. The night after the incident, he released a statement that said, “My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival. Houston PD has my total support as they continue to look into the tragic loss of life. I am committed to working together with the Houston community to heal and support the families in need.”
His statement contradicts his behavior at the concert. His set went on for 75 minutes, even after people in the crowd were being crushed. He knew something was amiss.
Scott was more than just a performer. He was also the brains behind the Astroworld Festival. He created the Festival in 2018. Two previous festivals had also drawn large crowds. They were unruly, but no one was killed. However, in 2019 three people were trampled.
Scott has a reputation for drawing a rowdy audience. His concerts frequently have mosh pits. Mosh pits are areas, usually near the stage, where people dance aggressively. Combined with people being trampled at the 2019 Festival, it seems clear that Scott should have known there was a stampede risk.
On the concert day, it was clear the crowd was particularly unruly. Some guests rushed through the barricades when they entered. The group was large, with about 50,000 people there. It was standing-room only and heavily packed with people. During the opening acts, the crowd was rowdy but not dangerous.
When Scott took the stage, the crowd went wild. Authorities still do not know what caused the crowd surge. However, fans pushed toward the stage from both sides. The people in the front middle section began to have trouble breathing. Some people passed out and then got crushed.
The crowd was aware there was a problem. When an ambulance got into the group, some concertgoers danced on top of it. There is social media footage of Scott acknowledging an ambulance in the crowd, then continuing to perform.
As a performer, the big question is whether Scott should have stopped performing. We believe he should have stopped. We think he had a duty to the concertgoers to do what he could to protect their safety.
Scott’s history as a performer may be relevant. He is known for his high-energy shows. He also has a history of encouraging fans to get rowdy. He has encouraged crowd surfing, moshing, stage diving, rushing the stage, and running past security. Since he has encouraged those behaviors, it is difficult for him to claim he could anticipate his fans would do those things.
Scott may also be liable as a concert organizer. Like Live Nation and ScoreMore, he participated in organizing the event. Was he negligent in preparing for the safety of the crowd?
Drake came on stage after people were already being injured in the crowd. Suits against him allege that he knew or should have known about the violence. By taking the stage to perform, he helped incite the mob.
Whether Drake is liable depends on whether he helped incite the crowd. He was not one of the Festival’s organizers. So, claims against him may differ from claims against Scott.
What About Kylie Jenner?
Some people have asked us if they can sue Kylie Jenner for what happened. No. At the time of the Festival, Jenner was dating Scott. She gave her condolences on social media for the event. However, she was not an organizer or performer at the event.
Stampede or Crowd Surge?
You may hear the Astroworld Festival described as a stampede or as a crowd surge. While people use the terms interchangeably, they are two different things. A stampede is a rush of people. A crowd surge is the sudden movement of a large group of people. In a crowd surge, the people in the front or the middle are often trapped. They cannot escape from the crowd. They often cannot move or breathe. Even those who are not trampled might be crushed or pass out.
In a crowd surge, the front of the push exerts pressure toward the back. They are trying to keep from being crushed. However, this pressure increases the force on the people in the middle. The people in the center begin to panic. Once people start to panic, it is not unusual for them to trample or crush others.
Can Organizers Prevent Crowd Surges?
Several factors contribute to crowd surges. So, it may be impossible to completely crowd-proof a venue. However, event organizers can take steps to reduce the risk of crowd surges. Security should be trained to spot signs of them. Performers also have a duty to try to prevent them.
There is a considerable gap between what people could have done to prevent a crowd surge and what happened at the Astroworld Festival. The standing-room-only event had 50,000 guests and no way to divide them. Once the crowd surged, it was going to be difficult to stop.
The organizers knew it might be a problem. The crowds surged at the entrance. They also swarmed booths and merchandise tables. Should they have stopped the Festival before Scott even performed?
Astroworld Festival Lawsuits
If you or a loved one were injured at the Astroworld Festival, we can help. From what we have learned, the injuries were preventable. We believe the organizers, performers, and venue were all grossly negligent. Contact us if you were injured at the Festival, in another mosh pit, or in a crowd surge scenario.