With the rising number of suits comes a panoply of different law firms and a question of whether consolidation may be the ultimate—and most practical—course of litigation.
Rapper Travis Scott and concert promoter Live Nation are being targeted by a growing number lawsuits following the events of the 2021 Astroworld Festival in Houston that left eight people dead and dozens more injured.
The growing stack of complaints against Scott—whose real name is Jacques Webster II—Live Nation and NRG Park generally allege that the defendants created unsafe conditions exacerbating the damage caused by the crowd panic.
But with the rising number of suits comes a panoply of different law firms and a question of whether consolidation may be the ultimate—and most practical—course of litigation.
Sean Roberts of Roberts Markland in Houston said the firm represents 45 plaintiffs in the Astroworld litigation, which he said is likely to encompass at least 100 lawsuits. Live Nation did not respond to a request for comment.
“The phone has been ringing,” Roberts said.
Regarding consolidation, Roberts said, “It is likely just because of the number of suits. It is highly probably that there is one judge who is going to manage this docket. We just don’t know who that is going to be right now. Assuming that at least one of these cases by today has landed in one of the Harris County judges’ court.”
There are also lawsuits likely to be filed in surrounding counties as well.
But the biggest challenge, according to Roberts, isn’t how the litigation will be organized.
“The biggest challenge I see is if there is a lack of adequate insurance. If Live Nation does not have at least $1 billion in insurance coverage, it’s going to get interesting.”
He added by way of comparison that in the litigation stemming from BP Texas City refinery explosion in 2005 that killed 15, BP paid out over $1.5 billion.
“Another example is the MGM shooting case where MGM settled for $800 million,” Roberts said. “The thing I think most of us are trying to determine is whether Live Nation was as lax with buying insurance as they were with setting up security.”
Veteran personal injury lawyer Robert Mongeluzzi of Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky in Philadelphia, though not involved in the Astroworld litigation, has sued Live Nation for crowd surge injuries that occurred during a Snoop Dogg concert at BB&T Pavilion in Camden, New Jersey.
In that case, Live Nation was sued when a rail system on one of the stages collapsed, injuring concert-goers. Like Astroworld, Mongeluzzi said the BB&T Pavilion incident was standing-room only.
“When we’re in a normal concert with seating and aisle, crowd surge is not an issue: Once you go to a standing-room only, you now lose all the safety protection of having thick seating and aisles,” Mongeluzzi said.
He added that by using a standing-room only, Live Nation was trying to maximize profit.
“Standing-room only is a much more profitable enterprise for the concert promotors and the enterprise because you can fit a hell of a lot more people. But with that you lose any semblance of being able to control a crowd unless you have an extremely large and well-trained security because there’s no choke point, no aisles. Particularly with artists whose style will cause people to be much more aggressive in moving forward” toward the stage.
Mongeluzzi continued, “It is clear they did not have that at Astroworld. Having experience in this realm, if I was handling this case I’d argue you [Live Nation] made the decision not to have seats, you made the decision to not have aisles, you made the decision to have ‘SRO,’ what did you do about security? What did you do about communication with the artist? It’s clear they were unaware of what was going on or reacted extremely late to it.”
Mongeluzzi added, “The only thing that seems pretty robust was the steel fence protecting the artist form the crowd, but unfortunately not the safety of the concert-goers and they’re the ones who paid the price with their lives.”