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Astroworld Concert Tragedy - What Comes Next?

Posted by Goldberg Noone Abraham | Nov 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

            An estimated 50,000 people descended on NRG Park in Houston on Friday night to attend the sold-out, 2-day long Astroworld Festival headlined by Travis Scott. Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a weekend of music and fun became a deadly tragedy, with at least eight people losing their lives and scores more injured following a lethal crowd crush as Travis Scott took the stage. In the days and months following this tragedy, top safety and security experts across the nation will be busy answering the calls of injury and wrongful death attorneys working to get justice for their clients. As of now, at least sixteen lawsuits have already been filed against Scott and event organizers. Security experts will begin by reviewing the type of event being hosted, the location, physical layout, the number of attendees, the number of security personnel to staff the event, and a multitude of other factors.

            Safety experts will also review the emergency plans to determine who drafted them, how they were approved, whether they were sufficient for an event of this size, and most importantly, whether the planned security measures were followed. In a detailed 56-page operations plan obtained by CNN, concert organizers detail procedures to follow in the case of “the ever-present threat of a mass casualty situation”. According to this plan, concert organizers advise their staff to notify Event Control of a suspected deceased victim by using the code “smurf” and were told to “never use the term ‘dead' or ‘deceased' over the radio.” Additionally, this plan establishes a clear chain of command in the case of an incident, identifying the role of the executive producer as well as the festival director as the only individuals with the authority to stop the concert. In the case of this event, a mass casualty event was declared by the Houston Police Department at 9:38pm, with the show promoter Live Nation agreeing to cut the show shortly thereafter. However, witnesses report that Travis Scott continued to play his full set, ending at 10:15pm, 37 minutes after the mass casualty event was declared, so it is unclear if promoters followed any of these plans.

            It is well known that large, tightly packed events of this nature can be particularly dangerous. Coupling this increased risk with behavior that encourages fans to breach security measures in place is a recipe for disaster. A crowd crush occurs when crowds of people become too dense, with six people per square meter becoming dangerous; seven or more can become deadly. Surging crowds like the one seen at Astroworld can lead to a myriad of life-threatening health complications, including the loss of the ability to breathe, the loss of blood circulation, and traumatic injuries from waves of pressure to the abdomen, chest, or head. This is also not the first Astroworld festival to have ended in injuries; in November 2019 3 people were trampled and hospitalized after thousands rushed to enter the festival. These victims were sent to the hospital and the concert continued as planned. Crowd control concerns had already been raised hours before the start of Friday's event, as video emerged online of thousands of people storming through the VIP entrance of the sold-out festival, ending in one injured and making it impossible to maintain crowd-safety.

Why punitive damages are necessary:

Travis Scott has a long history of encouraging dangerous behavior from his fans. In 2015, Scott was arrested on charges of inciting a crowd to jump barriers at a Lollapalooza concert in Chicago. He plead guilty to disorderly conduct. Just two years later, in 2017, Scott was arrested again after inviting his fans to approach the stage, prompting fans at the Walmart Music Pavilion in Rogers, Arkansas, to breach barricades and overrun security. In that case, he also plead guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct. That same year, a fan of his became paralyzed following being pushed from a third-floor balcony during a show at Terminal 5 in New York City.

Travis Scott consistently chooses fame and profit over the safety and lives of his fans. He has a clear understanding of the seriousness of safety protocols, yet he repeatedly chooses to disregard those same measures. Without damages intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar future misconduct, there will be an incentive to continue the danger that continues to earn fame and recognition. Many of those who survived will forever be haunted by the memories and injuries caused by the negligence of those holding this event. Safety matters. May the lives of these young fans and their grieving families forever be our reminder.

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