When Travis Scott took the stage at the Astroworld Festival at NRG Park in Houston, Texas on November 5, 2021, the crowd surged forward and the “crowd crush” resulted in the death of ten people and injuries to hundreds more. To date, nearly 500 lawsuits have been commenced in relation to this incident, most of them alleging negligence on the part of the concert venue, the security company, and Travis Scott.
It may seem strange that a performer can be held responsible for injuries that occurred in the audience of one of their shows, particularly when that performer did not direct or force the people in the audience to hurt the people standing in front of them. However, it is not without legal grounds.
In Ontario, for example, the Occupiers' Liability Act (the “Act”) requires “occupiers” of a property to keep people reasonably safe from harm when they enter that property. “Occupiers” is defined very broadly under the Act, as “a person who is in physical possession of premises, or a person who has responsibility for and control over the condition of premises or the activities there carried on, or control over persons allowed to enter the premises”. If a similar situation to that of the Astroworld Tragedy occurred in Ontario, the injured parties could claim that the performer had responsibility for and/or control over the activities carried on in the concert venue and therefore had a responsibility, or “duty” to keep the people in the audience reasonably safe from harm. More intuitively, the concert venue has control over who is allowed to enter the premises and the condition of the premises, and the security likely has control, at least in part, over the crowd. Given that a combination of these parties' negligence likely caused the “crowd crush” in the Astroworld Tragedy, they are all rightful defendants. They may have all breached their duty of care.
There are situations in which a risk is “willingly assumed” by the inherent nature of the situation. For example, if you get elbowed in the face in a mosh pit at a punk rock concert that risk may be deemed to have been willingly assumed. An occupier's duty of care does not apply to risks willingly assumed by a person. If you are injured at any venue, even through the direct fault of someone else (such as in a situation of assault), you may have an ability to sue the venue, or other potential parties. It is important you contact a lawyer to discuss your options, as it is not always clear if you can commence a claim for your losses.
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