The lawsuit claims the disaster was the direct result of “a motivation for profit at the expense of concertgoers’ health and safety” and the “encouragement of violence.”
“Defendants failed to properly plan and conduct the concert in a safe manner,” wrote Souza’s attorney, Steve Kherkher of the firm Kherkher Garcia LLP. “Instead, they consciously ignored the extreme risks of harm to concertgoers, and, in some cases actively encouraged and fomented dangerous behaviors.”
Representatives for Scott, Scoremore and Live Nation did not immediately return requests for comment on Sunday (Nov. 7).
The case is one of the first of many lawsuits that are expected to be filed over the incident, which appears to be one of the deadliest crowd disasters at a music event in years.
The crush occurred during the first night of a two-day festival attended by more than 50,000 people. The event, named for one of Scott’s albums, was hosted at the NRG Park stadium complex in his hometown of Houston. The exact cause of the disaster and the timeline events are still unclear, but videos and witness accounts appear to indicate a chaotic scene in which the already-rowdy crowd surged toward the stage, making it difficult for some to breathe.
In the new lawsuit, Souza claims that the Astroworld organizers disregarded warning signs earlier in the day, like an incident in which “concertgoers breached a security gate around the park, stampeded into the premises, and trampled over one another.”
Even after ambulances arrived to treat attendees who had “suffered serious obvious injury,” the suit says the organizers “made the conscious decision to let the show go on, despite the extreme risk of harm to concertgoers that was escalating by the moment.”
“Eventually, due to defendants’ active decision to let the show go on, the scene devolved into a complete melee, resulting in the needless, untimely death of at least 8 people and injuries to scores of others,” Souza’s attorneys wrote.
In addition to actions by organizers, the suit tries to pin blame on Scott himself, saying he was known for hosting intense concerts and encouraging his fans to “rage.”
“This kind of behavior has long been encouraged by the festival’s founder and main performer,” Souza wrote. “His express encouragement of violence has previously resulted in serious violence at numerous past concerts.”
In technical terms, the lawsuit accuses the organizers of negligence and gross negligence and is seeking at least $1 million in damages. Souza’s attorneys are also asking for a temporary restraining order preventing any destruction of evidence, which could be heard in court as soon Monday.
In addition to naming Scott, Scoremore and Live Nation as defendants, the lawsuit also named Scott’s Cactus Jack Records, LLC and several other individuals and companies involved in the event.
In a phone interview Sunday, one of the attorneys who filed the case echoed the petition’s claims about insufficient precautions.
“This was unnecessary,” said Kevin C. Haynes of Kherkher Garcia. “This kind of thing is not supposed to happen. There were things that were supposed to be done that were not done.”
Souza is also repped by Kevin C. Haynes, Jesus Garcia, Jr., Ryan MacLeod, Matt L. Martin and Tommy Kherkher.