Travis Scott submitted legal papers earlier this week seeking to be removed from the hundreds of lawsuits that were filed in the wake of the Astroworld tragedy. He insists that - despite founding and marketing the festival, as well as headlining it - he was not responsible for event safety. 

On the same day, Astroworld plaintiffs submitted a filing urging the court to reject a similar request made earlier this month by Drake. That filing provides some insight into the arguments plaintiffs will present when the first Astroworld lawsuits reach court in May, as well as proposing that artists should be given training in how to deal with crowd management in crisis situations. 

Scott's new legal filing begins, "Music festivals, like the Astroworld festivals that Travis Scott dreamed up as a hometown tribute to Houston, are designed for excitement, inspiration, and emotional release. 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". 

Expanding on that theme, it continues, "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".

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

Hundreds of lawsuits were filed following the tragedy. Many companies involved in the event have been named as defendants in at least some of the lawsuits, though key defendants across the litigation are festival promoter Live Nation and its Scoremore subsidiary, and Scott and his touring company XX Global

At the centre of much of the legal action is the allegation that Live Nation and Scott are liable for the ‘tort of negligence’, described by Cornell Law School as "the failure to behave with the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised under the same circumstances". 

To prove liability for negligence, the accuser must first demonstrate that the defendant owed them a ‘duty of care’. 

In the case of Scott and XX Global, this week's legal filing argues, that has not been demonstrated. "Precedent confirms that neither performers nor concert-promoters inherently owe a specialised duty to protect audience members from harm - whether posed by others in the crowd or some condition of the venue", it states.

More specifically, "the evidence - including the Scott defendants' contractual agreements with other defendants, allocating responsibility over festival operations - demonstrates that the Scott defendants were not responsible for venue security or operations, or the site layout". 

Even if there was a duty of care, Scott's filing continues, his personal conduct did not constitute any breach of that duty. "The evidence confirms", the legal filing continues, "that the Scott defendants acted diligently to protect against every reasonably apprehensible danger, as due care requires". 

Drake, who guested during Scott's headline set, filed legal papers earlier this month asking to be removed from any Astroworld lawsuits that name him as a defendant. He, of course, was even further removed from the actual organisation of the festival than Scott. 

A joint response from plaintiffs in the case submitted this week urged the court to reject that request from Drake, although the arguments for why he should be held liable for the crowd surge seem pretty weak. Nevertheless, it's an interesting filing in that it sets out some of the arguments that will be presented by the plaintiffs at trial regarding allegations of mismanagement before and during the festival.

It also documents the deposition that Drake previously took part in where he was questioned by lawyers working for the plaintiffs. He also discussed how artists rely on their business partners to ensure the safety of audiences at their shows. During the back and forth, the lawyers question whether - as part of that process - promoters provide guidance to performers as to what they should do if a crisis situation occurs at one of their concerts. 

"Before Astroworld 2021, had Live Nation ever provided you or your team with any training on crowd management issues?", the lawyers asked. 

"Had they ever provided you [with] any written policies or procedures on how to identify issues in a crowd at one of your live music performances?”, they continued. “Had they ever provided you any written policies or procedures or training on how to execute a show pause or a show stop? Had they ever rehearsed with you how to execute a show pause or a show stop?" 

Drake answered "no" to each of those questions. 

Of course, as the legal filings for both Scott and Drake have repeatedly stressed, crowd safety is not the responsibility of performers and nor should it be. 

Although it's an interesting proposal that performers should nevertheless be given some crowd management training. It would be interesting to know if such training could help on the very rare occasions when shows become dangerous.

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