Texas-based lawyer Brent Coon has announced that he has filed litigation on behalf of more than 1500 Astroworld attendees, more than doubling the number of people who are now pursuing legal action against the organisers of Travis Scott’s festival. As an opening gambit, Coon is demanding $10 billion in damages.
Ten people died and hundreds more were injured when a crowd surge occurred during Scott’s headline set at the Houston festival on 5 Nov. A criminal investigation is underway to ascertain what led to the crowd surge, and whether bad decision making prior to or during the festival contributed to the deaths and injuries.
A stack of litigation has also been filed in relation to the tragedy. Last week the process began to consolidate and coordinate pre-trial proceedings in relation to the 275+ lawsuits that had been filed by that point, which together involve more than 1250 plaintiffs. A legal filing confirmed that both plaintiffs and defendants supported “consolidating the cases before judge Lauren Reeder in the 234th district court of Harris County”.
Coon’s announcement significantly increases the number of festival-goers now involved in litigation. Among the thousands of people now suing are the families of the ten people who died, hundreds of attendees who suffering physical injuries during the crowd surge, and many more who will claim that the incident has caused them emotional distress.
A statement from Coon’s law firm earlier this week stated that it “represents 1547 concert goers, more than any other firm involved with the case to date”. The lawyer, the statement added, “has made a written demand of $10 billion dollars for resolution of all cases”.
Commenting on the litigation, Coon said: “In addition to litigating high profile mass tragedies all over the county the last 35 years, I also have run a concert promotion company for over 20 years and am very familiar with how you are supposed to plan these events. What happened at Astroworld was an unconscionable tragedy and it is important that justice is served for all those impacted”.
Alluding to the fact that Scott’s performance continued for more than 30 minutes after police had declared a mass casualty event at Astroworld, Coon added: “Everyone associated with these types of events has the power to halt conduct that is resulting in injury to attendees. It has been terribly disappointing that some defendants have already gone public misstating and down-playing their responsibilities that attach to events such as this. Anyone involved can at least temporarily stop an event when safety becomes a serious issue”.
“The fact that not a single company or individual involved in this incident ever made an effort to do so here, when it was readily apparent things were out of hand, is shameful”, he went on. “Trying to publicly dodge culpability is irresponsible and inconsistent with what really goes on behind the scenes in these events. I know. I run them and I have had to stop one, and did so before anyone got hurt. It’s part of the job”.
In addition to the lawsuits, Coon’s firm says that it will also campaign for new rules to better regulate large-scale events, in a bid to ensure nothing like the Astroworld tragedy can ever happen again. That will include proposed “legislative action” that would force “crowd control planning specialists to certify events, mandated training programmes for event preparation and criminal liability for any wrongdoing”.
Most of the lawsuits filed in relation to Astroworld include both Scott and the festival’s promoters – Live Nation and its Scoremore subsidiary – as defendants. Some also target the venue NRG Park and the companies that own and operate it, the Harris County Sports And Convention Corporation and ASM respectively; Apple, which was livestreaming the festival; and Drake, who made a guest appearance during Scott’s set.
Both Scott and Live Nation have begun formally responding to some of the lawsuits. The former is trying to get himself removed as a defendant on the basis he is not legally liable for the running of his festival. Live Nation is not seeking dismissal of the litigation, but it is denying all the allegations being made against it, most of which are based on the argument that negligent planning and on-the-ground management led to the tragedy.
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