A lawsuit filed on behalf of 125 victims in the Astroworld crowd-crush tragedy in Houston seeks $750 million in damages from Travis Scott, Drake, Apple, Live Nation and others.
Houston attorney Tony Buzbee filed the suit Monday of behalf of clients including the family of 21-year-old Axel Acosta, one of the 10 people who died at Scott’s annual hip-hop festival that also left hundreds injured.
The suit names Scott and Drake (who appeared as a guest performer) as defendants, along with promoters Live Nation and ScoreMore Shows; security firms Contemporary Services Corp., Apex Security and Valle Security Texas; and ParaDocs, the firm contracted to provide medical services at the festival, among others. The suit also names Apple, which livestreamed the concert on its Apple Music service; Scott’s record label Epic and his own Cactus Jack label; and the Harris County Sports & Convention Corp., which operates NRG Park.
“When Axel collapsed, he was trampled by those fighting to prevent themselves from being crushed,” the suit alleges. “As he lay there under a mass of humanity, dying, the music played and streamed on — for almost forty minutes.”
Buzbee's suit alleges that by early afternoon, "large groups presumably comprised of 'sickos' [Scott fans] outnumber the requested number of police and are already rushing the gates and dismantling barricades. Police begin discussing the possibility of shutting down lots and entrances to try and control access to the event."
By 8 p.m., "HPD [Houston Police Department] is requesting buses to move the detainees due to the sheer number of unruly individuals. Keeping them detained on site requires resources to be pulled away from other crowd control measures. It is clear that the security personnel and police presence were grossly overwhelmed."
"HFD [Houston Fire Department] personnel outside NRG gates declared a mass casualty event at 9:38 pm," the suit continues. "Despite this declaration, Defendant Webster [Jacques Bermon Webster II, who’s known professionally as Travis Scott] continued the show for another forty minutes, even introducing and performing with Defendant Graham [Drake]. These Defendants continued to perform, despite accounts that lifeless bodies being passed through the crowd in full view of the stage."
A representative for Scott told The Times in a statement late last week that "Travis Scott and his team have been actively exploring routes of connection with each and every family affected by the tragedy through the appropriate liaisons. He is distraught by the situation and desperately wishes to share his condolences and provide aid to them as soon as possible, but wants to remain respectful of each family’s wishes on how they’d best like to be connected.”
Representatives for Epic Records and Apple did not immediately return requests for comment on the suit. Live Nation said in a statement, "We continue to support and assist local authorities in their ongoing investigation so that both the fans who attended and their families can get the answers they want and deserve, and we will address all legal matters at the appropriate time.”
Buzbee writes in the suit, “When [Drake] accepted [Scott’s] invitation to perform at Astroworld 2021, [Drake] was well aware of the damage [Scott] had caused at his shows in the past. [Drake] was also well aware of the anticipated size and volatility of the crowd, and the likelihood of incitement.”
The lawsuit references several of Scott’s previous incidents of inciting dangerous behavior at concerts, including two prior misdemeanors for incidents in 2015 and 2017. A criminal investigation into the causes of the tragedy is also underway.
“Axel loved rap music, and he loved the lineup that was going to be playing at Astroworld, but that love and that feeling was not mutual,” Buzbee said at a Nov. 8 news conference in Houston. “Certainly, neither Travis Scott nor his handlers, entourage, managers, agents, hangers on, promoters, organizers or sponsors cared enough about Axel to make even a minimal effort to keep him and the others at the concert safe.”
Meanwhile, dozens of lawsuits have been filed on behalf of injured and deceased Astroworld concertgoers.
Attorney Ben Crump announced a lawsuit on behalf of the family of Ezra Blount, a 9-year-old who was the 10 victim to die of injures suffered at the festival. "The Blount family tonight is grieving the incomprehensible loss of their precious young son," Crump said in a statement announcing the suit. “This should not have been the outcome of taking their son to a concert, what should have been a joyful celebration."
The family of the late Manuel Souza alleged in their own suit against Scott, Live Nation and others that, "Tragically, due to Defendants’ motivation for profit at the expense of concertgoers’ health and safety, and due to their encouragement of violence, at least 8 people lost their lives and scores of others were injured at what was supposed to be a night of fun."
Maria D. Peña, the mother of victim Rudy Peña, also alleged in a suit that “The Defendants are liable for the injuries and death of Rudy Peña. They knew or should have known that the [conditions] were unsafe and presented an unreasonable risk of harm to the concertgoers. Despite the hazards, they let the show go on.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.