The hidden side of politics

Trial for final wrongful death suit in Astroworld concert crowd crush is set for September

ABC Entertainment:

HOUSTON — The one remaining wrongful death lawsuit filed after 10 people were killed during a deadly crowd crush at the 2021 Astroworld music festival has been set for trial in civil court in September, a judge said Tuesday.

State District Judge Kristen Hawkins scheduled jury selection to begin on Sept. 10 in the lawsuit filed by the family of 9-year-old Ezra Blount, the youngest person killed during the concert by rap superstar Travis Scott.

If the lawsuit filed by Blount’s family goes to trial, it would be the first civil case stemming from the deadly concert that will go before a jury.

Blount’s family is suing Scott, Live Nation, the festival’s promoter and the world’s largest live entertainment company, and other companies and individuals connected to the event, including Apple Inc., which livestreamed the concert.

During a court hearing Tuesday, lawyers for Blount’s family had asked Hawkins if the trial could be held sooner But Hawkins said various legal and logistical issues made it unlikely the case could be tried before September.

Scott West, one of the lawyers for Blount’s family, told Hawkins they still planned to depose Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino before the trial.

Attorneys for Live Nation have fought efforts to have Rapino questioned on what he knew about the festival, arguing he didn’t have any unique knowledge about the event. But plaintiffs’ attorneys have argued Rapino had a hands-on role in booking Scott for the festival, was focused on ticket sales and capacity and also sent an email hours after the deadly concert saying that “if 5 died we would cancel” the second day of the festival. The second day was later canceled.

Neal Manne, an attorney for Live Nation, said he hopes an agreement regarding Rapino’s deposition can be worked out but he might still appeal the issue to the Texas Supreme Court.

The lawsuit filed by Blount’s family is one of 10 wrongful death civil suits filed after the deadly concert.

Last week, lawyers had announced that the other nine wrongful death lawsuits had been settled. Terms of the settlements were confidential. Attorneys in the case have been limited in what they can say outside of court hearings because of a gag order in the case.

The wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of 23-year-old Houston resident Madison Dubiski had been set to go to trial last week. But it was settled before jury selection began.

About 2,400 injury cases filed after the deadly concert also remain pending. More than 4,000 plaintiffs had filed hundreds of lawsuits after the Astroworld crowd crush.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Hawkins scheduled the first trial related to the injury cases for Oct. 15. That trial will focus on seven injury cases.

“There will be a range of degrees of injuries,” West said about the trial related to the injury cases.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs have alleged in court filings that the deaths and hundreds of injuries at the concert were caused by negligent planning and a lack of concern over capacity and safety at the event.

Those killed ranged in age from 9 to 27. They died from compression asphyxia, which an expert likened to being crushed by a car.

Scott, Live Nation and the others who’ve been sued have denied these claims, saying safety was their No. 1 concern. They said what happened could not have been foreseen.

After a police investigation, a grand jury last year declined to indict Scott, along with five others connected to the festival.

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Follow Juan A. Lozano: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70

Source:ABC Entertainment

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