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Astroworld concert wrongful death trial set for September

HOUSTON– The only wrongful death lawsuit filed after 10 people died in a deadly crowd crush at the 2021 Astroworld music festival is set to go to trial in civil court in September, a judge ruled Tuesday.

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

If the complaint filed by Blount’s family goes to court, it would be the first civil case stemming from the deadly concert that would be brought before a jury.

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

At a court hearing Tuesday, attorneys for Blount’s family asked Hawkins if the trial could happen sooner. But Hawkins said various legal and logistical issues made it unlikely the case could go to trial before September.

Scott West, one of Blount’s family’s attorneys, told Hawkins that they still plan to remove Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino before the trial.

Live Nation’s lawyers attempted to question Rapino about what he knew about the festival, arguing that he had no unique knowledge of the event. But plaintiffs’ attorneys argued that Rapino played an active role in booking Scott for the festival, that he was focused on ticket sales and capacity and that he also sent an email a few hours after the deadly concert saying that “if five people died, we would cancel” on the second day. Of the party. The second day was then canceled.

Neal Manne, Live Nation’s lawyer, said he hoped an agreement regarding Rapino’s deposition could be reached, but that he could still appeal the issue to the Texas Supreme Court.

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

Last week, lawyers announced that the other nine wrongful death lawsuits had been settled. The terms of the settlements were confidential. Lawyers handling the case were limited in what they could say outside of court hearings because of a silence order in the case.

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

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

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

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

Plaintiffs’ attorneys alleged in court that the deaths and hundreds of injuries at the concert were due to negligent planning and a lack of concern for the event’s capacity and safety.

Those killed were aged between 9 and 27. They died from asphyxiation by compression, which one expert compared to being run over by a car.

Scott, Live Nation and the others sued have denied the allegations, saying safety is their number one concern. They said what happened was not predictable.

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

ABC News

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