The latest lawsuit filed over the deadly Astroworld tragedy is seeking at least $750 million from a long list of defendants including Travis Scott, Drake, Apple, Live Nation – even Britney Spears’ former management company Tri Star Sports & Entertainment.
The complaint, filed Tuesday in Texas, calls out Tri Star boss Lou Taylor by name and includes an image of Taylor posing for a photo with Scott, one of her clients. The image embedded in the filing was tweeted by a member of the #FreeBritney movement Nov. 6, the day after the deadly crowd-control disaster that killed 10 people in Houston.
A lawyer representing Tri Star declined to comment when reached by Rolling Stone on Wednesday.
Texas attorney Tony Buzbee, who filed the complaint on behalf of more than 125 plaintiffs, tells Rolling Stone he believes all the defendants “ignored” a series of red flags and should be held liable.
“When people say, ‘Tony, How can you sue Apple TV, the record labels and these other peripheral entities?’ Well I would suggest they threw in with this. They were promoting this, encouraging this and profiting from this,” he said. “It’s profits over people. And if the show doesn’t go on, people don’t get paid.”
He said no one was “incentivized to stop this show,” from the permitting process through the final song performed onstage, because so much money was at stake.
“I guarantee you, had the crowd attacked the stage or interfered with the performers themselves, oh my goodness, they would have called in every police officer within a hundred miles. But as long as the performers weren’t in any kind of jeopardy, who gives a shit about the people in the crowd, I guess, was the attitude. And it can’t be like that,” he said.
The parents of victim Axel Acosta are lead plaintiffs in the new lawsuit, bringing claims of wrongful death. Acosta, 21, died at the Nov. 5 concert after he was “crushed by the incited, unruly and out-of-control crowd with such force that he could no longer breathe,” the paperwork states.
The suit, which also claims gross negligence, lays out a detailed timeline alleging the concert at NRG Park had problems with “mobs” of concertgoers breaching checkpoints, pushing through 10-foot fences, jumping barricades and ignoring COVID screening stations throughout the day.
Shortly after Scott took the stage at 9 p.m., reports of people with crush injuries and difficulty breathing started pouring in, it claims. Even after a “mass-casualty event” was declared by Houston Police at 9:38 p.m., the show was allowed to go on, with Scott performing for “another 40 minutes, even introducing and performing with [Drake],” the paperwork states.
The filing also calls the defendants’ offer to give concertgoers full refunds “a transparent and grotesque effort” to limit liability to the price of a ticket. Buzbee says he also expects Live Nation and other defendants will attempt to force all concertgoer plaintiffs, regardless of whether they’re minors or not, into binding arbitration based on “hidden legal language” that accompanied their ticket purchases.
Scott, whose legal name is Jacques Webster, has said he had no idea people were suffocating in the crowd. In a video message posted on Instagram, the rapper said he “could just never imagine the severity of the situation.” His partner Kylie Jenner, mother of his daughter Stormi, also released a statement saying she and Scott were “broken and devastated.”
In his own statement posted on Instagram, Drake called the deadly concert a “devastating tragedy.”
“I hate resorting to this platform to express an emotion as delicate as grief but this is where I find myself,” Drake wrote. “My heart is broken for the families and friends of those who lost their lives and for anyone who is suffering. I will continue to pray for all of them, and will be of service in any way I can, May God be with you all.”
Dozens of other Astroworld lawsuits have been filed in Harris County District Court in Texas, including one by the father of Ezra Blount, the 9-year-old boy trampled at the concert who lingered in a coma for days before he died Sunday in a children’s hospital. Buzbee said he expects the cases to be consolidated in a single courtroom in Houston under a judge appointed by the Texas Supreme Court, likely in the next 60 days.