HOUSTON — Nearly a year after the Astroworld tragedy, the wheels of justice are turning slowly for fans who were injured during Travis Scott's concert. Only two wrongful death cases have been settled so far, while thousands of other claims remain unresolved.
The legal consequences of the crowd surge and chaos that left 10 dead and hundreds injured at the festival won’t be fully known any time soon.
“Law is complicated and facts are complicated and especially in a case like this,” Assistant Professor Peter Salib at the University of Houston Law Center said. “There’s just a lot to find out."
The legal discovery process—a fact-finding mission to determine exactly what went wrong and who was at fault--is still in the early stages. Written discovery has “only just begun” according to a recent court pleading, and “no defense witnesses have been deposed at this juncture.”
Professor Salib said there are a lot of key questions to be answered about what occurred before the event and during the concert itself.
“What agreements did the promoters have with the venue? What did they say to each other about who was in charge of security and crowd control? What did you do to prepare? What did you know? When did you know it?” Salib said.
To help move the discovery process along, approximately 400 lawsuits representing close to 5,000 plaintiffs have been consolidated into an MDL--multi-district litigation--in the Texas 11th District court under Judge Kristen Hawkins.
Legal experts said the goal is to settle the cases through the help of a mediator. But if the plaintiffs and more than 60 defendants cannot come to terms, a sampling of cases may go to trial. Those would likely come from each category of lawsuit: wrongful death cases, extensive injury cases, less-serious injury cases, and other damages such as PTSD.
“Every case is different, the death of one person does not necessarily mean that a different jury will value another death the same way,” said attorney Randy Sorrels, former president of the State Bar of Texas who is not representing any Astroworld plaintiffs.
“But it gives the parties some idea of what the value of that type of case may be,” Sorrels said.
Sorrels added that the total potential payout to Astroworld victims could be staggering.
“You’re probably talking about dollars in the hundreds of millions of dollars, maybe even approaching a billion dollars when it’s all said and done,” he said.
Anyone involved in the lawsuits are unlikely to speak publicly about the festival since Judge Hawkins has issued a gag order. The next status conference in the multi-district litigation is set for late November, but at any time plaintiffs’ attorneys may work out a settlement for their respective clients.