Apr 16, 2024 2 min read

Astroworld lawyers argue “this event was Travis Scott’s festival” as judge considers musician’s motion for dismissal

The judge overseeing the Astroworld litigation yesterday considered more motions for dismissal from defendants that want to be removed from the lawsuits that were filed in the wake of the crowd surge tragedy at the festival’s 2021 edition. That includes festival founder and headliner Travis Scott

Astroworld lawyers argue “this event was Travis Scott’s festival” as judge considers musician’s motion for dismissal

Lawyers were in court in Houston yesterday arguing over whether or not Travis Scott should be cut free from the ongoing Astroworld litigation. Noah Wexler, an attorney representing victims of the crowd surge tragedy that occurred at Astroworld 2021, insisted that “this event was Travis Scott’s festival and it was crafted through his tour agreement with Live Nation”. That agreement, he added, gave Scott a large degree of control over the festival he had founded. 

When exercising that control, decisions made by Scott and his team contributed to the crowd management issues, Wexler then argued, according to Law360. Scott, he said, “demanded that he have his own custom stage, that he be the only performer that played on that stage for the entirety of Friday evening, and that he be the only performer while he was giving his headline performance”. The crowd surge occurred during Scott’s headline set on that main stage. 

The musician's representatives reasserted arguments made in his earlier motion for dismissal, in which he requests to be removed as a defendant in all of the Astroworld lawsuits. Basically, performers are not responsible for crowd management and event security. “There’s no evidence of extreme or outrageous conduct on the part of my client”, Scott’s attorney Steve Brody added. 

Elsewhere it was argued that, while Scott's demands to have his own stage did create some crowd management issues, they were identified before the event and changes were made to the site set up to deal with those challenges. Meanwhile, on the night, Scott stopped his performance four times when he saw issues in the crowd, but he was simply not aware of the crowd surge and ended his set when instructed to do so. 

Ten people died and hundreds more were injured during the crowd surge at Astroworld 2021. Hundreds of lawsuits were filed, with the first due to get to trial next month. Scott and his primary business partner in the festival, Live Nation, are the core defendants, although many other people and companies connected to the event are also listed as defendants on at least some of the lawsuits.

Most of those people and companies, like Scott himself, have been trying to get themselves removed from the legal action. That includes Drake, who guested during Scott's Astroworld set, and Sony Music’s Epic Records, which releases Scott’s recordings. Last week, judge Kristen Hawkins agreed to remove both Drake and Epic from the litigation. However, she denied a motion for dismissal filed by two of Scott’s own companies, LaFlame and Cactus Jack

Hawkins also last week denied a motion for dismissal from Apple, which livestreamed the festival. However, the tech giant is still trying to get itself removed via a separate motion making different arguments, and therefore also had a lawyer at yesterday's court hearing. 

According to the Houston Chronicle, that attorney, David Singh insisted that, “A livestreamer at an event has no affirmative duty to ensure an event is safe or to rescue concert-goers from harm”. Countering claims that Apple’s team had placed some of its cameras around the stage area without permission, Singh stated that the placing of his client’s recording equipment was approved in advance by the festival’s organisers.  

Judge Hawkins didn't reach any decisions yesterday, but should rule on the remaining motions for dismissal pretty quickly.

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