At least five of the families of people who died at the Astroworld festival in Houston, Texas last month have declined an offer from the event’s founder and headliner Travis Scott to cover funeral expenses. That includes the family of the youngest victim, nine year old Ezra Blount.
Ten people died and hundreds more were injured during a crowd surge that occurred while Scott was performing his headline set at Astroworld 2021. A criminal investigation is underway into what led to the crowd surge, while Scott and the festival’s promoters – Live Nation and its subsidiary Scoremore – are facing nearly 250 lawsuits in relation to the incident.
On the Monday after the tragedy, Live Nation and Scoremore confirmed that they were offering full refunds to all Astroworld ticket holders, while a statement issued on behalf of Scott stated: “Travis Scott will cover all funeral costs and provide further aid for individuals affected by the 5 Nov tragedy at Astroworld Festival”.
There has been much speculation since as to whether a festival-goer accepting a ticket refund would impact on their right to sue Live Nation and Scoremore in relation to the crowd surge. Beyond the families of those who died – and the hundreds more who were injured – it is anticipated thousands of other people at the festival could also sue for emotional distress.
Meanwhile, some have questioned whether the families of those who died would actually want to take up Scott’s offer to cover funeral costs, given the legal battles they are embarking on against the rapper and his business partners.
It emerged earlier this week that the Blount family had formally told Scott’s legal team that they wouldn’t be accepting any money from the musician to pay for the nine year old’s funeral.
And now lawyers representing four more victims have told Rolling Stone that their clients have likewise declined any such support. That includes attorneys working for the families of Jacob Jurinek, Franco Patino, Axel Acosta and fourteen year old John Hilgert.
According to Rolling Stone, all the lawyers it spoke to dubbed Scott’s offer to cover funeral costs as “an attempt to lessen public pressure rather than a genuine display of remorse”, adding that “they’d rather let the courts decide what actions best give the victims justice”.
The magazine also quoted the lawyer working for the Hilgert family – Richard Mithoff – as stating: “It was not an offer [the Hilgerts] were going to seriously consider. Of all the things this case is about, that’s the least of any concern. This family is set on making change and ensuring this never happens at a concert again. I find offering to pay for funerals frankly demeaning and really inappropriate to the magnitude of the tragedy that unfolded”.
Meanwhile, the lawyer working for the Jurinek and Patino families – Philip Corboy – criticised Scott for formally making the offer to cover funeral costs via his legal representatives.
“If he’s trying to impress upon the families that he’s sincere and has concern for them and realise that funerals can be expensive, what Scott’s team did is not the way to do it”, Corboy said. “You don’t get a piece of paper in the mail from a lawyer in Beverly Hills who says he represents Travis Scott. These families are raw right now; that lacks any personal touch”.
The Acosta family’s lawyer – Tony Buzbee – was even more forthright, noting that the offer to cover funeral expenses was first made in a press release. “It’s bullshit”, he told Rolling Stone. “If you gave a shit about these families, you wouldn’t have to put out a press release for everyone to see saying he’s willing to pay for a funeral”.
As the litigation continues to mount up in relation to Astroworld, Law360 has confirmed that Scott has hired the services of high profile litigator Daniel Petrocelli of LA law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP. The lawyer will be lead counsel for the musician as all the lawsuits in relation to the Astroworld tragedy go through the motions.
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