Judge dismisses lawsuits filed against Drake over concert deaths

12 April 2024, 01:24

Music Festival Deaths
Music Festival Deaths. Picture: PA

Drake was a special guest of rap superstar Travis Scott, who headlined the Astroworld festival.

Hip-hop artist Drake has been dismissed from a lawsuit over the 2021 Astroworld festival in Houston in which 10 people were killed, a judge has ruled.

Drake was a special guest of rap superstar Travis Scott, who had headlined the festival. He performed with Scott at the end of the concert on November 5 2021, as the crowd surged and attendees were packed so tightly many could not breathe or move their arms or legs.

Authorities and festival organisers were trying to shut down the show.

The families of the 10 people who died during the concert, as well as hundreds who were injured, sued Drake, Scott and Live Nation — the festival’s promoter — as well as dozens of other individuals and entities.

Many of those who were sued, including Drake and Scott, asked state District Judge Kristen Hawkins to dismiss the lawsuits against them. On Wednesday, Ms Hawkins dismissed Drake from the case in a brief order.

Wireless Festival 2019 – Day 2
Travis Scott (PA)

Lawyers for Drake, whose full name is Aubrey Drake Graham, had argued during a court hearing on April 1 in Houston that he was not involved in putting the concert together so was not liable for the deaths and injuries that had occurred.

During a deposition he gave in November in Toronto, the Canadian rapper said in the moments before he took the stage, no one told him that people in the crowd were suffering cardiac arrests or other injuries. He said when he was on stage, the crowd looked like a blur and he could not make out any details.

In the deposition, Drake was shown a video that the youngest victim, nine-year-old Ezra Blount, took as he sat on his father’s shoulders.

“Do you see the panic in those people’s eyes?” an attorney asked Drake about the video.

“I do, sir,” the rapper responded.

Later, when asked by an attorney for Ezra’s family about whether it would be important for him to hear from those who put the concert together about why Ezra died, Drake said: “I think I would want answers for what happened, yes.”

On Monday, Ms Hawkins dismissed seven companies and individual people who had been sued. But she denied motions to dismiss were filed by 10 other companies and individuals, including Apple Inc, which produced a livestream of the concert, and two companies associated with Scott.

Ms Hawkins was set to hear other motions to dismiss, including one related to Scott as an individual, on Monday.

Following an investigation by Houston Police, no charges were filed against Scott.

A grand jury in June declined to indict him and five other people on any criminal counts related to the deadly concert. Police Chief Troy Finner declined to say what was the overall conclusion of his agency’s investigation.

In July, the police department made public its nearly 1,300-page investigative report in which festival workers highlighted problems and warned of possible deadly consequences.

Those killed, who ranged in age from nine to 27, died from compression asphyxia, which an expert likened to being crushed by a car.

The first trial from the lawsuits is scheduled for May 6.

Some of the lawsuits have since been settled, including those filed by the families of four of the people killed during the concert.

The most recent settlement related to a person who was killed was announced in court filings on February 5, with lawyers for the family of 23-year-old Rodolfo “Rudy” Peña saying they had settled their case.

By Press Association

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