Deaths and Injuries in Astroworld Crowd Surge Spark Lawsuits

A surge of fans crowding the stage at the Astroworld Festival in Houston resulted in several deaths and injuries in early November 2021. Now, both Astroworld and Travis Scott, the rapper onstage at the time, are facing legal scrutiny.

Dani Alexis Ryskamp, J.D.

Written by
— Updated on November 23, 2021

Deaths and Injuries in Astroworld Crowd Surge Spark Lawsuits

The Parties: Travis Scott and Astroworld

Travis Scott is a music performer and record producer. A Houston native, Scott released his third studio album “Astroworld” in 2018.

Following the release of the album, Travis Scott announced the Astroworld Festival, which debuted in 2018 after the release of his album. Astroworld Festival returned in 2019 and this year, at the site of the former Six Flags AstroWorld.

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the cancellation of the 2020 Astroworld Festival. However, the event returned in 2021 with an expanded lineup of artists and genres. The 2021 festival featured 100,000 available tickets. The tickets sold out within half an hour of their release for purchase.

A portion of the festival’s proceeds was slated for donation to the Cactus Jack Foundation, which Travis Scott founded. The charity seeks to “empower and enrich the lives of youth by providing access to education and creative resources to ensure long-term success.”

What Happened at Astroworld?

Travis Scott took the stage at Astroworld on Friday night, November 5th. During his performance, the crowd surged forward toward the stage, trampling some audience members and trapping those in the front.

The surge resulted in at least 10 deaths. In addition, “scores of individuals […] were injured,” according to Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña. One concert attendee described the experience as “drowning in a pool filled of just people.” 

Astroworld was originally scheduled for November 5 and 6. However, festival officials canceled the Saturday, November 6 events at the Astroworld Festival after the previous night’s incident. In a statement on its Instagram, Astroworld announced that “the festival will no longer be held on Saturday.” The Astroworld Instagram statement also asked anyone with “relevant information” about the incident to contact Houston police.

The November 2021 deaths and injuries were not Astroworld’s first injury incidents. In November 2019, three people were hospitalized with leg injuries in a crowd stampede to enter the festival. The injuries did not prevent the 2019 event from proceeding as planned.

There have also been links between Travis Scott and incidents of crowd injuries at his concerts, even before the Astroworld Festival began. In 2017, for example, Scott encouraged fans to rush the stage during a concert in Arkansas. Several attendees, a security guard, and a police officer sustained injuries in that incident. Scott later pled guilty to disorderly conduct in connection with those injuries.

What to Expect from the Astroworld/Travis Scott Lawsuits

Investigation of the incident began with reviews of the venue’s layout, including its exit points and capacity. Investigators also sought to understand why the surge occurred and what prevented those involved from avoiding injury.

The Houston police department also began conducting a criminal investigation with the assistance of its homicide and narcotics divisions.

The eight individuals who died in the Astroworld incident ranged in age from 14 to 27 years old. The death toll rose to 10 when two more passed away after suffering injuries at the festival. One was a 22-year-old who died on November 10. The other was a nine-year-old boy who doctors placed in a medically induced coma due to severe injury. Twenty-five people went to local hospitals for treatment. An on-site field hospital at the Astroworld Festival treated approximately 300 people for injuries.

One lawsuit filed by an injured concert attendee alleges that both the festival and Travis Scott failed to provide adequate emergency support staff. As a result, “patrons themselves had to conduct CPR on their fellow concertgoers,” claims the lawsuit. Despite the need for emergency medical care and the escalating risk, however, the suit alleges that the “defendants made the conscious decision to let the show go on.”

The complaint places the blame not only on the venue’s lack of adequate attention to safety concerns but also on Travis Scott himself. “Scott actively encourages his fans to ‘rage’ at his concerts. His express encouragement of violence has previously resulted in serious violence at numerous past concerts,” claims the lawsuit.

The Causation Behind the Astroworld Incident

The Astroworld lawsuits raise numerous questions of liability. The layout and staffing of the venue, for example, may become points of focus in discussions of causation. Travis Scott’s own behavior on stage November 5, as well as the reputation he has built of encouraging crowds to rush or surge the stage in disregard of security personnel, may also come under scrutiny.

How Can Experts Weigh In On the Astroworld/Travis Scott Lawsuits?

Attorneys may call upon experts in venue layout and safety to discuss issues like the presence or absence of appropriate first aid or security staff, signage, barriers, and exits. Attorneys may also ask experts in human psychology and related fields to opine on the crowd’s mentality and the effect Scott’s behavior or reputation might have had on the crowd’s behavior, if any. Expert testimony may play a key role as the parties seek to build their respective theories regarding what happened, who, or what caused the deaths and injuries, and who is responsible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I am an