Can rapper Travis Scott be held liable for Astroworld tragedy?

By Noah Zedeck, 2L member

Rapper Travis Scott is making headlines for all the wrong reasons. In November 2021, a massive “crowd surge” left 10 people dead at Scott’s Astroworld Music Festival. Additional injuries were reported, including 11 cases of cardiac arrest, and 23 people were hospitalized. Questions are now mounting regarding who is responsible for this event and how it occurred. Potential plaintiffs are looking for who is liable.

Numerous lawsuits have been filed in relation to the event, but it is still largely unclear who is truly liable as a number of individuals and entities could be to blame. The event itself was held at NRG Park in Houston but it was organized by a number of entities, including Live Nation. The most notable organizer of the event who could face liability is Scott himself.

Scott’s unique position as not only a performer, but also an organizer and supervisor of the Astroworld event, places him in relatively uncharted territory compared to other artists who have faced potential liability for concert deaths. For example, neither Pearl Jam nor The Who were sued when people were trampled to death at their concerts. This was due in part to those bands merely performing at the venues where those deaths occurred rather than organizing and supervising the entire events themselves.

The case against Scott is further substantiated by his history of provoking large crowds, at times by explicitly encouraging attendees to storm the stage. Some lawsuits have even named fellow rapper Drake as a defendant after he appeared onstage with Scott and allegedly contributed to inciting the crowd.

While it is not so uncommon for large events hosting thousands of people to get out of hand and sometimes lead to injuries or deaths of attendees, it has been extremely uncommon for performers at those events to be held liable for such tragic occurrences. Astroworld is perhaps a different kind of event, and Scott a different kind of performer, than has ever been the subject of this type of litigation.

Other performers will no doubt be keeping a close eye on these cases to see if courts will opt to hold Scott even partially liable for the Astroworld tragedy, thus potentially exposing them to future liability as well.

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