Travis Scott and Live Nation have begun formally responding to the stack of lawsuits that have been filed against them in relation to last month’s Astroworld tragedy. The promoter has denied the allegations made against it, while Scott is seeking to have himself removed from the litigation.
Ten people died and hundreds more were injured when a crowd surge occurred during Scott’s headline set at the Houston festival he founded. 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. Meanwhile, more than 275 lawsuits involving more than 1250 festival-goers have already been filed.
Scott himself has received plenty of criticism since the tragedy occurred. A lot of that has focused on the fact that he continued to perform for more than 30 minutes after police at the festival had declared a “mass casualty event”. Others have noted how the musician has long encouraged fans to behave recklessly at his shows which, some claim, made events like that which unfolded last month much more likely to occur.
However, Scott’s attorney, Edwin F McPherson, has previously hit back at those critics, stressing that – as his client performed on 5 Nov – he was not aware of the tragedy that was unfolding within the crowd. Nor could anyone have expected him to be aware, McPherson added, given the glare of the lights and the ear monitors Scott uses, making it impossible to hear anything but the music that is playing. It was for the event’s organisers, not the star of the show, to halt the performance once it became clear what was happening on the ground.
As for the claims Scott had a history of inciting reckless behaviour at his shows, McPherson said that earlier in his career his client “didn’t understand the magnitude of his power up on the stage”, but that that had changed over the years. The lawyer also stressed that, on the couple of occasions that Scott did become aware of problems during the Astroworld show – for example when he saw that an audience member had collapsed near the front of the stage and when an ambulance was trying to move through the crowd – he did temporarily halt his performance.
Fellow rapper Chuck D has also spoken out in support of Scott, arguing that it is Live Nation which should be held liable for the Astroworld tragedy. In an open letter last month he wrote: “Travis Scott is a performer, an act, not a concert promoter. He doesn’t run the sound or venues or festivals or their staff. He doesn’t build stages or coordinate logistics, he’s not an expert in crowd control or security or emergency medical services”.
“The excuse of Scott’s irresponsible actions don’t wash”, he also added. “If his act had a history of that behaviour why promote him to bigger venues, why partner with him in the first place and let him headline a bigger audience?” It’s clear, Chuck D concluded, that “Live Nation controlled this show”.
These are the kinds of arguments that Scott and his legal team will now be busy applying in formal filings with the court as he seeks to get himself removed from all the lawsuits that have been filed in relation to Astroworld. The rapper is named as a defendant on most of those lawsuits, alongside Live Nation and its Scoremore subsidiary. Other entities named on some of the litigation include the festival’s venue NRG Park, and the companies that own and operate that complex, the Harris County Sports And Convention Corporation and ASM respectively.
According to Rolling Stone, Scott has already filed paperwork seeking to have himself removed from at least eleven of the Astroworld lawsuits, including that filed by the family of one of the festival-goers who died, Bharti Shahani. A legal rep told Rolling Stone that the rapper is simply “not legally liable” for what happened at Astroworld last month. Scott is seemingly seeking to have the lawsuits against him dismissed with prejudice, which would prevent plaintiffs from filing additional litigation against the musician in relation to the festival in the future.
Live Nation, Scoremore and the Harris County Sports And Convention Corporation have all also seemingly started responding to the lawsuits. They also deny all the allegations that have been made against them – mainly that negligent planning and on-the-ground management led to the tragedy – although they are not currently seeking to have the cases dismissed.
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