Saima Amin, 27, remembers the exact moment she and her husband realized they needed to get out.
The couple had traveled from Toronto to Houston’s NRG Park to see Travis Scott perform at the Astroworld music festival Nov. 5, arriving five hours before Scott was to perform at 9 p.m, so they could get a prime spot near the front.
But as the countdown clock hit five minutes to showtime, the crowd of about 50,000 started to push, with some losing their balance. Amin had already lost her shoe, and the show hadn’t even begun. As the crowd surged forward, the couple tried to leave, but made little headway. Amin remembers looking up at the countdown clock and seeing five seconds counting down.
“I could feel myself starting to panic,” she recalls. “As soon as he came on stage people started losing balance and were falling to the floor, I could feel elbows in my ribs and got hit in the head, at this point I started losing consciousness.”
Amin came-to with her face pressed to the ground, other bodies on top of her. She remembers screaming for help, but realizing no one could reach her. Instead, Amin, who is Muslim, began to pray.
“I started processing that dying was a real possibility and started to ask God for forgiveness.”
“The entire time all I could hear was Travis Scott’s auto-tuned voice and the screams and pleadings of others around me as they begged for help.”
By some miracle, Amin found the strength at that moment to pull her leg free and claw her way to standing. She remembers looking down and seeing the face of a young man, passed out and purple-faced.
Another man saw Amin, and pulled her over the barrier. When she finally found her husband, he had lost his phone, shoes and pants. After Amin escaped, the concert went on for another hour.
“It was a scene from Hell,” she said.
Despite their traumatic experience, the pair are grateful to be alive. That evening, 10 people lost their lives after the crowd surges and at least 25 were hospitalized, making it one of the deadliest concerts in the nation’s history. The victims include a 9-year-old boy, a 15-year-old boy, and a 21-year-old who was celebrating his birthday with his best friend, who also died.
Now more than 150 lawsuits have been filed against promoter Live Nation, the concert organizers, PR companies, security providers and the performers including Travis Scott and Drake in complaints cumulatively seeking damages of more than $3 billion.
The tragedy has shone a light on the responsibility of venues, hosts and performers at large events, as the victims of Astroworld grapple for answers, and try to find some form of redress for what they experienced that day.
“My hope for the future is that no one feels unsafe or that their life could possibly come to an end in that sort of environment,” Amin told Top Class Actions. “People don’t go to concerts to die.”
One Way In, One Way Out
A criminal investigation into the event is currently ongoing, and the causes of the deaths of the festival goers have not yet been made public.
However, festival safety experts and legal teams have already begun to assess what may have gone wrong that day, and who might be to blame.
In a recent Washington Post investigation, the newspaper revealed that most of those who died were jammed in one small section of the crowd, and fenced in on three sides.
It found the layout of the festival had sent a flood of people into this specific section after another artist finished her set. Getting overly packed, the crowd then began to collapse in on itself, safety experts told the Post. The people in that area were hemmed in, unable to get out if they wanted to.
Those who were pulled out of the crowd reported medical personnel being egregiously understaffed for the number of victims, with a specific shortage of stretchers and defibrillators.
Meanwhile, concertgoers like Amin can’t understand why the show continued to play for almost an hour after the first reports of people being crushed started coming in.
Seeking Justice, and Billions in Damages
As of Nov. 15, nearly 200 people had filed 93 lawsuits through civil rights lawyer Ben Crump of Ben Crump Law and Texas lawyer Alex Hilliard, with dozens more filed through other law firms.
The pair are also representing the youngest victim of the tragedy, 9-year-old Ezra Blount, who died from his injuries after being trampled at the festival.
“We are committed to seeking answers and justice for the Blount family,” Crump told Top Class Actions in a statement.
The Blount lawsuit alleges negligence in a number of aspects including crowd control, failure to provide proper medical attention, hiring, training, supervision, and retention.
It names Scoremore Mgmt, Live Nation Entertainment, Travis Scott, Cactus Jack Records, and rapper Drake — who made a guest appearance — as defendants.
The lawsuit will allow independent experts commissioned by the legal team to access the roped-off crime scene at the festival to glean more information about what might have caused the tragedy, Hilliard told Top Class Actions in a statement.
One of the major issues was the fact that the concert was not stopped soon enough.
Firefighters first got reports of people being crushed at 9:18 p.m. By 9:52 p.m., the festival had been declared a “mass-casualty incident.” However, Scott continued playing until 10:12 p.m., despite videos appearing to show people clearly screaming for help.
Scott has since posted a video saying that anytime he could make out something going on in the crowd, he stopped the show to get them the help they needed. He also offered to pay for the funerals of the victims, and give festival goers free access to a mental health app.
“It is outrageous that it took as long as it did to stop the show, as many of these deaths and injuries likely could have been prevented or mitigated,” Hilliard said.
One of the lawsuits provided to Top Class Actions by Ben Crump Law represents more than 90 festival-goers.
Many report being crushed in the crowd and suffering injuries like back pain, popped kneecaps, bruised ribs and split lips. One woman reports being sexually assaulted amid the surge. Another suffered a cardiac attack and was hospitalized.
In another lawsuit, filed by Houston lawyer Tony Buzbee, 125 victims are seeking more than $750 million in damages. They allege Scott’s past actions and social media posts glorify “violence and other dangerous behaviors.”
Despite the allegations, some lawyers believe it will be hard to hold Scott liable for the event in court.
Lawyer Bryan Sullivan of Early Sullivan Wright Gizer & McRae told Yahoo Business that while, hypothetically, an artist can be held liable for an event like Astroworld, Scott would have likely had to have incited violence through some sort of direct action, to be held liable.
He said the rapper’s reputation, lyrics and social media posts were “not enough” to hold him accountable in court.
Heading to a Critical Mass of Lawsuits
Despite the flood of lawsuits, lawyer Steven A. Adelman — who is also Vice President of a coalition of live event producers called Event Safety Alliance — warned Top Class Actions it was “way too soon” to understand what might have gone wrong at the concert.
“Lawsuits take a long time precisely because there are lots of facts to uncover,” he said.
“As much as snap judgments and the appearance of certainty make for nice sound bites, the right way to investigate something complicated is to gather all the relevant evidence, and only then to start making judgments and casting blame.”
He said the reason so many lawsuits had been filed in such a short amount of time was because personal injury lawyers had rapidly signed a number of clients.
“Many of these lawyers advertise heavily so their logo, phone number, or slogan is stuck in people’s heads,” Adelman said. Others set up specific websites to find plaintiffs.
Once there is a critical mass of individual lawsuits filed in one place, likely Harris County, Texas, then one judge will be appointed to handle all the cases together, the lawyer said. That judge will set rules that apply to all the lawsuits to avoid duplication of effort or inconsistent rulings.
Meanwhile, Astroworld promoters have been processing refunds for anyone who attended the show.
While some concertgoers feared accepting the refund would preclude them from taking legal action in future, Adelman said this would only be the case if the refund came with an agreement not to sue for further damages.
If you or a loved one attended the Astroworld Festival and experienced an injury or PTSD, you may be entitled to compensation. Click here to fill out a form for a case evaluation.
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