x

The latest industry news to your inbox.


I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities

    

I accept IQ Magazine's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

Astroworld: All wrongful death lawsuits settled

The one remaining wrongful death lawsuit filed over the Astroworld disaster has been settled, it has been announced.

Ten people died and hundreds more were injured during the fatal crowd crush at the November 2021 festival at NRG Park in Houston, Texas, US.

The final case to be settled involved the family of Ezra Blount, a nine-year-old from Dallas who was the youngest person killed during the concert by rapper Travis Scott.

Blount’s family had sued Scott, festival promoter Live Nation and other companies and individuals connected to the event, including Apple Inc., which livestreamed the concert.

The final case to be settled involved the family of Ezra Blount, the youngest person killed during Astroworld

Jury selection for the trial was scheduled to begin on 10 September but an attorney for Blount’s family said a settlement was reached last week, according to AP. The other nine wrongful death lawsuits filed over Astroworld were settled earlier this month.

Terms of the settlements in all 10 lawsuits were confidential. Attorneys for Live Nation, Scott and others have declined to comment during the case because of a gag order that limits what they can say outside court.

So far, no lawsuit has gone before a jury but around 2,400 injury cases filed after the deadly concert remain pending. More than 4,000 plaintiffs filed hundreds of lawsuits after the Astroworld crowd crush.

Earlier this month, state District Judge Kristen Hawkins, who is presiding over the litigation, had scheduled the first trial, focusing on seven injury cases, for 15 October. It is not clear if that trial date will remain or be moved up with the settlement in the Blount lawsuit.

In June last year, a grand jury declined to indict Scott, nor anyone else associated with the festival.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Astroworld wrongful death lawsuit trial date set

A wrongful death lawsuit filed in relation to the youngest victim of the Astroworld tragedy is set to go to civil trial in September.

Nine-year-old Ezra Blount was one of 10 people killed in the deadly crowd crush at the festival, which was headlined by Travis Scott at NRG Park in Houston, Texas, US.

Blount’s family is suing Scott as well as companies including event promoter Live Nation and Apple Inc., which livestreamed the November 2021 concert.

AP reports that State District Judge Kristen Hawkins scheduled jury selection to start on 10 September. Scott West, a lawyer for Blount’s family, told the judge they still planned to depose Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino before the trial. Rapino had previously been ordered to give testimony in the lawsuits brought against LN and others.

Live Nation attorney Neal Manne previously fought attempts to have Rapino questioned, arguing that messages dated from prior to the festival proved that the CEO had no involvement in the planning of Astroworld. But lawyers for the plaintiffs said Rapino had correspondence and conversations with a number of people involved in the festival in the immediate aftermath, and as such his testimony is relevant to the litigation.

The lawsuit is the last remaining wrongful death filing relating to the disaster after nine of the 10 cases were settled

At the latest hearing on Tuesday (14 May), Manne said he hoped an agreement could be reached regarding Rapino’s deposition, but added he might still appeal the issue to the Texas Supreme Court.

The lawsuit is the last remaining wrongful death filing pertaining to the disaster after nine of the 10 cases were settled out of court. All of those who died suffered from compression asphyxia. The defendants deny allegations of negligence, among other claims.

Judge Hawkins also scheduled the first trial related to the thousands of injury complaints filed over Astroworld. The trial, which will focus on seven cases, has been set for 15 October. Around 2,400 other injury cases are still pending.

Last year, a grand jury declined to file criminal charges against Scott or anyone else associated with the festival.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Nine of 10 Astroworld wrongful death cases settled

Nine of the 10 wrongful death lawsuits filed over the Astroworld disaster have been settled, it has been announced.

Ten people died and hundreds more were injured during the fatal crowd crush at the November 2021 festival at NRG Park in Houston, Texas, US.

As per AP, Neal Manne, a lawyer for the festival’s promoter Live Nation told a court hearing yesterday (8 May) that only one wrongful death lawsuit filed in relation to the tragedy remained pending, with the settled suits including one filed by family of 23-year-old Madison Dubiski.

That trial had been due to start this past Monday (6 May), but was delayed due to a battle over whether Apple Inc., which filmed Scott’s Astroworld performance for an exclusive livestream, should be involved in the case.

Attorney Noah Wexler, who represented Dubiski’s family, confirmed during the court hearing that their case “is resolved in its entirety”. Terms of the settlement, which has been reached with all defendants including Live Nation, Scott and Apple, have not been disclosed.

“The confidential agreement will honour Madison Dubiski’s legacy and promote improvements for concert safety”

“Mr Scott is grateful that a resolution has been reached without the need for a trial,” says Ted Anastasiou, a representative for the rapper. “The confidential agreement will honour Madison Dubiski’s legacy and promote improvements for concert safety.”

The remaining pending lawsuit relates to nine-year-old Ezra Blount, the disaster’s youngest victim. Scott West, an attorney for Blount’s family, told the court the case was ready for trial, but Manne said lawyers for other defendants being sued were not ready.

State district judge Kristen Hawkins plans to discuss the Blount case at a hearing next week along with potential trials related to the thousands of injury cases filed over Astroworld, of which around 2,400 are still pending. Hawkins added that if the family’s lawsuit is not settled, she is leaning towards scheduling that as the next trial instead of an injury case.

In June last year, a grand jury declined to indict Scott, nor anyone else associated with the festival.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

First civil trial over Astroworld tragedy delayed

The first civil trial for Travis Scott, Live Nation and others over their role in the 2021 disaster at the Astroworld music festival has been delayed.

Ten people died and hundreds more were injured during the fatal crowd crush at the 5 November 2021 festival at NRG Park in Houston, US.

A trial had been finally set to start on Monday (May 6) but proceedings have now been pushed back indefinitely due to an unresolved battle over whether Apple Inc., which filmed Scott’s Astroworld performance for an exclusive livestream, should be involved in the case.

In a ruling last Thursday (2 May), a Texas appeals court refused to let the case move forward until it can rule on the ongoing dispute over Apple’s involvement. It gave Apple until May 10 to file paperwork in the case.

Hundreds of people have sued over the Astroworld tragedy, collectively seeking billions in potential damages. After years of discovery and depositions, the first trial – a wrongful death case filed by family of Madison Dubiski, a 23-year-old who died at Astroworld – was due to start today.

“Allowing plaintiffs to pursue Apple under state tort law for exercising its free speech rights would have a significant chilling effect”

Apple was named as a defendant in many of those cases, including the one filed by the Dubiskis. The victims claim Apple directly contributed to the disaster with the placement of its equipment: “Apple’s role in the tragedy is straightforward: it reduced the available crowd space, when available space was a matter of life or limb.”

The tech giant has strongly denied those claims. In a motion last month demanding to be dismissed from the litigation, Apple argued that simply livestreaming the event doesn’t make the company liable for the disaster. The company said it had been filming the deadly event as a member of the media, meaning it was insulated from such lawsuits by the First Amendment.

“Allowing plaintiffs to pursue Apple under state tort law for exercising its free speech rights would have a significant chilling effect,” the company wrote last month in a motion. “Recognising such a legal duty in this case would be entirely unprecedented and would impose significant burdens on broadcasters and livestreamers that are frequently bystanders at events.”

In a ruling last month, Judge Kristen Hawkins denied that motion, leaving Apple to face the trial alongside Scott, Live Nation and the other defendants.

Subsequently, the tech giant filed an immediate appeal with a state appellate court seeking to overturn that ruling – a move that, under Texas state law, imposes an automatic pause on any upcoming trial proceedings.

“These free speech and free press issues warrant appellate resolution before Apple faces trial”

“Apple recognizes that the trial date is imminent and that both the court and all parties have devoted much time and effort to preparing the case for trial,” said Apple’s attorneys on Tuesday (30 April). “These free speech and free press issues warrant appellate resolution before Apple faces trial.”

Attorneys for Dubiski’s family criticised the move and, in a Wednesday (1 May) motion seeking to dismiss the appeal and stick to the trial date, they argued that Apple was no more shielded by the First Amendment than a Houston television station “whose news van negligently crashes into a pedestrian while covering a story”.

“The Dubiski family … have waited patiently for their day in court, only to watch Apple shamelessly seek to manipulate the system,” lawyers for the victim’s family wrote. “Litigation is not supposed to work this way. This court should promptly dismiss this appeal.”

But in an order late Thursday (2 May), the appeals court refused to unfreeze the case ahead of the planned trial date. Instead, it ordered Apple to respond by May 10 to the plaintiffs’ request to dismiss the case.

Last month, Travis Scott’s attempts to be removed from civil litigation were denied, however Drake, who appeared as a special guest during Scott’s headline set, was dismissed from the lawsuits.

Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino has also been ordered to give testimony in the suits brought against his company.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Travis Scott to face trial over Astroworld tragedy

A Texas judge has ruled Travis Scott must remain a defendant over Astroworld after denying the rapper’s attempts to be removed from civil litigation relating to the tragedy.

Ten people died and hundreds more were injured during the fatal crowd crush at the November 2021 festival at NRG Park in Houston, US.

In June last year, a grand jury declined to indict Scott, nor anyone else associated with the festival. However, more than 300 lawsuits were filed naming Scott, promoter Live Nation and other companies involved in the event.

Judge Kristen Brauchle Hawkins declined the requests of Scott and his touring company XX Global to be dismissed from the consolidated lawsuits, having previously rejected similar efforts by his Cactus Jack Enterprises and LaFlame Enterprises firms. A number of other parties including Apple, which livestreamed the concert, has also been ordered to face trial.

Houston Public Media reports that Scott’s legal team had argued that the 32-year-old was not in control of safety or security measures at the event, and therefore should not be held responsible for the casualties.

“This event was Travis Scott’s festival. It was created through his tour agreement with Live Nation”

“Like any other adrenaline-inducing diversion, music festivals must balance exhilaration with safety and security – but that balance is not the job of performing artists, even those involved in promoting and marketing performances,” said Scott’s attorney Daniel Petrocelli, as per Billboard. “Which only makes sense: Performing artists, even those who engage in certain promotional activities, have no inherent expertise or specialised knowledge in concert safety measures, venue security protocols, or site design.”

However, Noah Wexler, a lawyer for the family of one of the victims, Madison Dubiski, argued that Scott and Live Nation had joint control of various aspects of the show.

“This event was Travis Scott’s festival,” said Wexler during a court hearing last week. “It was created through his tour agreement with Live Nation.”

Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino has also been ordered to give testimony in the suits brought against his company and others by families of those who died. The first trial is due to begin in Houston on 6 May, while a number of cases have already been settled.

Earlier this month, Drake, who appeared as a special guest during Scott’s headline set, was dismissed from the lawsuits. The Harris County District Court of the 11th civil district granted Drake’s request for a summary judgment in the case and dismissed “all claims asserted against [Drake] by all plaintiffs and intervenors in this multidistrict litigation”. Attorneys for Drake had argued that since he was not involved in organising the concerts, he was not liable for the casualties that occurred.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Drake removed from Astroworld lawsuits

Drake has been dismissed from lawsuits relating to the 2021 Astroworld festival tragedy.

Ten people died and hundreds more were injured during the fatal crowd crush at the November 2021 event in Houston, Texas. All of those who died suffered from compression asphyxia.

The Canadian rapper, real name Aubrey Graham, appeared as a special guest during festival founder Travis Scott’s headline set, but attorneys for Drake had argued that since he was not involved in organising the concerts, he was not liable for the casualties that occurred.

“Mr Graham did not receive any security briefings, was not informed of any crowd control issues, injuries or deaths in the crowd, or any stop show orders at any time either before or during his 14-minute performance,” wrote the star’s lawyers.

USA Today reports the Harris County District Court of the 11th civil district granted Drake’s request for a summary judgment in the case and dismissed “all claims asserted against [Drake] by all plaintiffs and intervenors in this multidistrict litigation”.

District judge Kristen Hawkins dismissed seven companies and individuals who had been sued, but denied motions to dismiss that were filed by 10 other companies and individuals, including Apple, which livestreamed the concert, and Scott’s company Cactus Jack Enterprises.

The first trial from the lawsuits is slated for 6 May

In June last year, a grand jury declined to indict Scott, nor anyone else associated with the festival. However, more than 300 lawsuits were filed naming Scott, promoter Live Nation and other companies involved in the event.

Almost 5,000 people have claimed they were injured in the disaster, with lawsuits filed in each of the 24 district courts in Harris County. Nearly every claim alleges negligence such as “failures of safety and security rules, crowd control and emergency response measures, and failures to provide adequate security, supervision, training and care”.

The first trial from the lawsuits is slated for 6 May, while a number of cases have already been settled.

According to court documents, the head of safety for the festival raised concerns about the number of people that could be near the stage, ten days before the event took place.

Earlier this month, a Texas judge ordered Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino to give testimony in the lawsuits brought against his company and others by families of those who died at the festival.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Rapino ordered to testify in Astroworld lawsuit

Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino has been ordered to give testimony in the lawsuits brought against his company and others by families of those who died at the 2021 Astroworld festival.

Ten people died and hundreds more were injured during the fatal crowd crush at the November 2021 Astroworld event in Houston. In June last year, a Texas grand jury declined to indict rapper and festival founder Travis Scott, nor anyone else associated with the festival.

However, more than 300 lawsuits were filed naming Scott, Live Nation and other companies involved in the event. Lawyers representing the plaintiffs presented the court with evidence of correspondence between Rapino and other people involved in the event in an effort to show that he had significant knowledge about Astroworld.

Live Nation’s attorney, Neal Manne, told the court that only six of those messages dated from prior to the festival, including one where the CEO had asked whether Live Nation was the event’s promoter – proving that Rapino had no involvement in the planning of Astroworld.

“The court finds that Michael Rapino has personal and direct knowledge of relevant information”

Lawyers for the plaintiffs point out that in the immediate aftermath of the crushing tragedy, Rapino had correspondence and conversations with a number of people involved in Astroworld, and as such his testimony is relevant to the litigation.

One claim in the lawsuits is that Live Nation subsidiary Scoremore might not have had sufficient experience to set up the Astroworld festival site, and lawyers appear keen to question Rapino about the corporate structure of Live Nation.

Despite the fact that the lawsuits filed over Astroworld were not able to name Rapino as a defendant in his own right, judge Hawkins agreed with the plaintiffs that his testimony could involve vital information about culpability in the tragedy, and therefore ordered that the CEO sit for a deposition to answer questions under oath.

Ruling that the company’s top executive would have to participate in a deposition, Judge Kristen Hawkins wrote, “The court finds that Michael Rapino has personal and direct knowledge of relevant information. The court finds that Michael Rapino has superior knowledge of discoverable information and that he is the only individual with personal knowledge of the information. The court finds that the information is not available through other sources.”

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Astroworld: Organisers were ‘forewarned about overcrowding’

Organisers of Travis Scott’s Astroworld festival were allegedly warned about the overcrowding issues in 2021 that led to a fatal crowd crush.

Ten concertgoers, aged between nine and 27, died following a crowd surge during Scott’s headline set at the 50,000-cap festival in Houston, Texas, on 5 November 2021.

According to new court documents, the head of safety for the festival raised concerns about the number of people that could be near the stage, 10 days before the event took place.

“I feel like there is no way we are going to fit 50k in front of that stage,” Seyth Boardman wrote to the festival’s operations director, according to BBC News. The exchange was one of many included in recent court filings.

The amendments were submitted by lawyers for the families of those killed at the event and others affected by the tragedy, as part of the mass civil litigation filed against the organisers.

Expert evidence submitted by the plaintiffs claims that festival planners miscalculated the number of people that could be legally allowed on the premise to avoid overcrowding.

The new documents suggest that organisers for Astroworld mistakenly thought that the fire safety code allowed for five square feet per person, but the actual number was seven.

This, it states, contributed to a crowd of roughly 50,000 people crammed into a space meant for only 34,500. The defence team is yet to file their expert reports in court.

“I feel like there is no way we are going to fit 50k in front of that stage”

The documents also illustrate that organisers appeared to be concerned that gatecrashers entering without a ticket could exacerbate the situation and further increase the crowd size.

This issue, the document alleges, was compounded by security lapses and a failure to monitor the crowd for signs of a potential crowd crush.

The civil case is set to begin in May, and the defendants include Scott, Live Nation Entertainment and venue manager ASM.

Almost 5,000 people have claimed they were injured in the disaster, with lawsuits filed in each of the 24 district courts in Harris County. Nearly every claim alleges negligence such as “failures of safety and security rules, crowd control and emergency response measures, and failures to provide adequate security, supervision, training and care”.

Last year, the go-ahead was given for hundreds of the lawsuits to be formally consolidated into a single case. The first wrongful death lawsuit settlements were reportedly reached last autumn.

In June it was announced that no criminal charges would be filed over the tragedy at Astroworld (cap. 50,000), which was promoted by Live Nation and Austin-based Scoremore.

Jurors at the Harris County District Attorney declined to charge Scott (real name Jaques Webster II), festival manager Brent Silberstein, John Junell of Live Nation, security planners Shawna Boardman and Seyth Boardman of Contemporary Services Corporation, and Emily Ockenden, formerly of event production company BWG, after reviewing all the evidence.

However, Scott could be ordered to pay a considerable sum of money, depending on the outcome of the civil case that begins on 6 May 2024.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Travis Scott breaks silence on Astroworld tragedy

Travis Scott has made his first public statement on the Astroworld tragedy in more than two years.

Ten concertgoers, aged between nine and 27, died following a crowd surge during Scott’s headline set at the 50,000-cap festival in Houston, Texas, on 5 November 2021.

“I always think about it,” said the rapper in a new interview with GQ. “Those fans were like my family. I love my fans to the utmost.

“It has its moments where it gets rough. You just feel for those people. And their families.”

In June it was announced that no criminal charges would be filed over the tragedy. Scott’s only previous public statement on the disaster was made via his social media accounts in the days following the festival, where he spoke of his devastation.

“I’m absolutely devastated by what took place,” he said in an Instagram video. “My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened.

“Anytime I can make out anything that’s going on, I stop the show and help them get the help they need. I could just not imagine the severity of the situation.”

Scott was quizzed by lawyers for several hours in September over hundreds of lawsuits filed against him and others in the wake of the festival

Scott was quizzed for several hours in September over hundreds of lawsuits that were filed against him and others in the wake of the festival. The civil deposition, which lasted nearly eight hours, took place in Houston, and marked the first time the rapper was questioned by lawyers over the festival.

Lawyers and others connected to the civil lawsuits are under a gag order, preventing them from saying little beyond what happens during court hearings.

Rolling Stone reports that Drake, who appeared on stage at Astroworld as a special guest during Scott’s set, was also questioned in a deposition tied to the hundreds of lawsuits filed in relation to the crowd crush. Drake has been named in multiple suits alongside Scott, promoters Live Nation and Austin-based subsidiary Scoremore, and Apple, which livestreamed the event, but maintains he had no part in the organisation of the show.

Almost 5,000 people have claimed they were injured in the disaster, with lawsuits filed in each of the 24 district courts in Harris County. Nearly every claim alleges negligence such as “failures of safety and security rules, crowd control and emergency response measures, and failures to provide adequate security, supervision, training and care”.

According to Chron, two fresh lawsuits, representing more than 40 plaintiffs combined, were filed just last month, each seeking $1 million damages.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Houston police release Astroworld report

Houston police has published its full report on the 2021 Astroworld tragedy.

Ten concertgoers, aged between nine and 27, died following a crowd surge during Travis Scott’s headline set at the 50,000-cap festival, promoted by Live Nation and Austin-based Scoremore, at Houston’s NRG Park, Texas in November 2021. All of those who died suffered from compression asphyxia.

The 1,266-page report includes details of multiple witness interviews, including Scott and special guest Drake, as well as a timeline of events on the night.

“Travis stated that towards the middle/end of the show, just before the guest (Drake) took the stage, he was instructed to end the show after he (Drake) was done,” says the report. “He stated that normally if it was something drastic, someone would have to come hit the button or pull the plug.”

According to the document, Scott was later told: “Yo Trav, you got to wrap it up, it’s getting kinda hectic out there,” via his earpiece, but was not informed of the severity of the situation.

Drake told police it was difficult to see any crowd problems from his vantage point due there being “a lot of lights”

Drake told police it was difficult to see any crowd problems from his vantage point due there being “a lot of lights”, adding, “he was also focusing on his foot placement because he was concerned about his knee which he had recently had surgery”.

The report also reveals text messages sent by security contractor Reece Wheeler to a colleague, Shawna Boardman, which said: “Stage right of main is getting crushed. This is bad. Pull tons over the rail unconscious. There’s panic in people eyes. This could get worse quickly.”

In subsequent messages, Wheeler warned “someone’s going to end up dead”.

“I would pull the plug but that’s just me,” he said. “I know they’ll try to fight through it but I would want it on the record that I didn’t advise this to continue. Someone’s going to end up dead.”

Boardman’s attorneys said that she realised Wheeler “was wrong in his assessment”, and went to the area to make sure it was populated with the correct staff.

It was confirmed last month that no criminal charges will be filed over the tragedy

“She saw paramedics, police officers, security guards, and no unconscious people,” continues the report. “Shawna did not see any panic and saw a strong police presence. She said police were taking pictures of the show with their phones which reflected the matter as not extremely dangerous or a sense of emergency.”

Boardman did not relay information in Wheeler’s text to anyone else. “She did not reply to him. He does not get on the
radio or tell anyone else,” it adds.

It was confirmed last month that no criminal charges will be filed over the tragedy after a grand jury issued six no-bills related to the deaths. Jurors declined to charge Scott (real name Jaques Webster II), festival manager Brent Silberstein, John Junell of Live Nation, security planners Boardman and Seyth Boardman of Contemporary Services Corporation, and Emily Ockenden, formerly of event production company BWG, after reviewing all the evidence.

“It is tragic that 10 innocent people were killed while trying to enjoy an evening of music and entertainment, something many of us do routinely and without a second thought to our safety,” said Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg. “But a tragedy isn’t always a crime, and not every death is a homicide.”

The decision has no bearing on the pending civil lawsuits relating to the case.

A US taskforce made a series of recommendations on how to improve concert safety in response to the disaster last year.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.