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Lawsuit Filed Against Travis Scott and Concert Promoters for Astroworld Tragedy

Attorney Page Pate joined CNN Newsroom to discuss the lawsuit filed against Travis Scott and the concert promoters for the tragic deaths that occurred at the Astroworld festival in Houston.

Page thinks these are the major legal issues:

  1. What is the potential civil liability of the venue, Travis Scott, and the other people associated with the event (third party security, organizers, etc)? Anyone who had responsibility for ensuring security, crowd control, and onsite medical care could be liable to the families of those who died and were injured, likely for many millions of dollars. All the liable parties have insurance and they will be expected to pay. I understand that Travis Scott has been sued before for injuries like this at his events, primarily due to him encouraging the “rage.”
  2. What about criminal charges? Putting aside the question of whether the guard was injected with something (which is clearly a crime), organizers, promoters, and Scott himself could potentially be criminally charged with either manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide under Texas law. The analysis will depend on what they knew, and what they did to address the surge as it was happening. Neither of these charges require an intent to kill or hurt anyone. It’s about being reckless or extremely negligent.

TRANSCRIPT:

Pamela: And Houston Texas Police have launched a criminal investigation to the death of eight people at the AstroWorld Music Festival.

The crushing sea of fans surge toward the stage on Friday night as rapper Travis Scott started to perform. Many fans trapped in the vise-like squeeze and unable to move as the air was squeezed out of their lungs, some collapsed and were trampled. Here you can see some people reaching into the crowd trying to rescue others by pulling them over the barricade to safety. On CNN a short time ago, we spoke to one woman who was grateful to be alive.

Dana: It was just terrifying is the only word I have to describe it. Everyone around us was just trying to take each individual breath and there was just no air left for anyone to breathe. We were too closely compact. Everyone was too pushed up against each other. There was just nowhere to go and no air to breathe. I just started screaming, “Help, help. Please help me I can’t breathe.” And finally, some people around me told me they were going to pick me up and they just started saying crowd surf her to the medics.

Pamela: Joining me now, Criminal and Defense and Constitutional Law Attorney, Page Pate. Page, good to see you. So we are just getting word in the past few minutes that a $1 million lawsuit has been filed against Travis Scott, Live Nation, and concert promoter, ScoreMore, following this tragedy. Surely, more will follow. What is the potential civil liability for these parties?

Page: Well, Pamela, I think potentially these parties are liable for many millions of dollars, not just $1 million. In a case like this, I think it’s going to be somewhat difficult to prove civil liability on behalf of Travis Scott himself, although he was clearly, I think, getting the crowd into this, engaging them even when he should have had noticed that it was a very dangerous situation. The concert promoter, I think, is also being targeted for civil liability, Live Nation, anyone who had any responsibility for either ensuring security, crowd control, or on-site medical treatment and evaluation could potentially be liable and they should expect that. I mean, this was a situation that perhaps you could have expected some sort of crowd interaction like this but once it happens, you need to be able to take control. This is not the first time they’ve had an incident at a Travis Scott event. They should have been ready for it. They should have expected it and if they’re not, they’re going to be liable.

Pamela: You mentioned Travis Scott’s behavior. He has a history of encouraging chaos at his shows, daring fans to rush past security barriers. Could he be criminally liable for egging fans into dangerous behavior?

Page: I think he can, Pamela. I don’t think this is the first time that someone has suggested that he could be criminally charged. But I think in the past, it’s been more of, “Okay, this is disorderly conduct. This is some sort of a misdemeanor.” But people died in Houston as a result of what happened at that festival, at that concert. And under Texas law where this occurred, if you are reckless and cause someone’s death, you have committed manslaughter. If you are criminally negligent and cause someone’s death, that’s criminally negligent homicide. Those are serious charges that carry serious prison time. Now, the investigation is still early. Who knows what the facts are? But we all know a couple of things, one, it was a very dangerous situation, he should have been aware of it and yet he continued to egg people on. That’s negligent.

Pamela: He posted on his Instagram and his Instagram story talking about this, just saying how horrible he felt, that he’s trying to, you know, help authorities, that had he known the extent of it, he would have stopped everything. And, you know, you’ve heard from performers that say, “Look, it can get rowdy at these concerts. Sometimes they…people pass out because they’re overheated,” and so forth. And they may not understand the extent of it. Could that be a defense for him?

Page: It can certainly be a defense up to a point. Yes, when you go to a Travis Scott concert, I assume you know you’re going to be in a situation where there are crowds of people who get rowdy, who get inspired by the music, and who may take it a step too far. But the issue here is once that starts to happen, you have a responsibility to do something and you don’t wait until someone dies. You don’t wait until people are trampled and then say, “I’m very sorry. The insurance company will pay you off.” No, once this happens, you have a responsibility. This cannot be a surprise to Travis Scott based on the behavior of the crowd and based on his prior shows.

Pamela: All right, Page Pate. Thank you so much. We’ll be right back.

Page: Thank you.