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Lawyers for Astroworld victims defend delays in fulfilling discovery demands

By | Published on Thursday 1 December 2022


Lawyers working for attendees of last year’s Astroworld festival in Houston, Texas have hit back at complaints made by attorneys representing the event’s promoter Live Nation and founder Travis Scott, who last week said that nearly 1000 of those attendees had failed to hand over “critical evidence” on deadline.

Ten people died and hundreds more were injured when a crowd surge occurred during Scott’s headline set at the 2021 edition of the festival he founded.

Hundreds of lawsuits were filed in the wake of the tragedy, including by the families of all of those who died. At one point more than 4900 attendees were involved in those lawsuits – some suing over physical injuries and others for emotional distress – although, according to Billboard, the number has since dropped to about 2500.

All that litigation was consolidated in January and has been going through the motions ever since, with the whole thing moving into the discovery phase. That’s where lawyers working on the litigation request information and documents from the other side.

Lawyers for Live Nation, Scott and the other defendants requested that those suing provide information on what injuries or other harm they suffered as a result of the crowd surge, and also any evidence documenting their attendance and experience at Astroworld 2021.

Last week the defence team complained to the judge overseeing the cases that 956 of those involved in the lawsuits had yet to respond to those discovery requests. In a filing with the court they declared: “There is no excuse for the non-responsive plaintiffs’ complete disregard of their discovery obligations – they should be compelled to comply immediately”.

The delays could have a tangible impact on any future court cases, they added, because key evidence could be lost. “The longer the non-responsive plaintiffs delay, the higher the risk that critical evidence or information in their possession will be lost, destroyed, or forgotten”, they stated. “Cell phones get lost or destroyed, and the photographs and videos on them get deleted”.

However, on Monday lawyers repping the claimants pushed back at that criticism. Some of the attendees accused of not responding to discovery requests in fact had, they argued, while others have dropped out of the litigation altogether.

Meanwhile, some of those suing had “experienced serious trauma” as a result of their experiences at Astroworld which had impacted on their ability to respond, but their lawyers are still “working diligently with them to complete their discovery response”.

We await to see how the court now responds. Two of the families of those who died have actually already settled their litigation, although the terms of those settlement deals are not known.

Elsewhere in Astroworld related news, safety guidelines for the complex that hosted Astroworld 2021, Houston’s NRG Park, have been formally amended in the wake of last year’s tragedy. The amendments have been put together by a task force formed earlier this year, and aim to streamline and therefore make more effective safety protocols, permitting requirements and communication for large-scale events held on the site.