HOUSTON - Lawsuits continue to mount after 10 concertgoers were killed, including a 9-year-old boy, and nearly 300 were hurt while attending rapper Travis Scott’s music festival at Astroworld earlier this month.
According to FOX News, personal injury attorney Ben Crump has announced a lawsuit on behalf of more than 100 victims.
One of those victims was 9-year-old Ezra Blount, who died Sunday after being taken off of life support. Crump is representing his family and is filing a lawsuit against Scott, Live Nation and other entities that had a hand in putting on the music festival. The lawsuit alleged Scott and organizers failed to stop the performance until after 40 minutes chaos broke out.
"Ezra sustained life-threatening injuries and was placed in a medically induced coma on life support in an attempt to combat his brain, liver, and kidney trauma," Crump’s law firm said in a statement.
"The Blount family tonight is grieving the incomprehensible loss of their precious young son," the statement continued. "This should not have been the outcome of taking their son to a concert, what should have been a joyful celebration. Ezra’s death is absolutely heartbreaking. We are committed to seeking answers and justice for the Blount family. But tonight we stand in solidarity with the family, in grief, and in prayer."
Scott was the headliner for the sold-out Astroworld Festival in NRG Park in Houston, which was attended by an estimated 50,000 people. The crowd suddenly surged toward the stage during a performance by Scott, squeezing fans so tightly together that they could not breathe or move their arms in the chaos.
The dead ranged in age from 9 to 27. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner called the disaster "a tragedy on many different levels" and said it was too early to draw conclusions about what went wrong.
FOX News also reported that attorney Rick Ramos stated that he was representing at least 10 victims, one of them among the eight deceased, who attended the Astroworld Festival and were harmed during Scott's performance. He noted at the top of a news conference that he is hoping to get his clients the medical help they need, including dealing with the trauma they experienced from the event, according to the outlet.
"They were subjected to witnessing dead bodies, dead right in front of them, could not be resuscitated, bodies that were turned purple right in front of their eyes, witnessed their friends be crushed by barricades, witnessed their brothers and sisters being stomped on," he said.
Last week, attorney Tony Buzbee announced he will file lawsuits on behalf of 35 plaintiffs, including the family of Axel Acosta, who was killed amid the chaos. His lawsuit is against several organizers and promoters who had a hand in putting on the concert.
"The air was literally slowly squeezed out of him, sending his heart into cardiac arrest," he told reporters during a news conference Monday afternoon.
He said other concertgoers "trampled over his body like a piece of trash" before paramedics tried to restart his heart but failed.
Another law firm, Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, announced it has filed lawsuits on behalf of a group of concertgoers including Oscar Villanueva, who claimed he "was trampled as he attempted to perform CPR on an individual who had fallen unconscious."
Crump also filed a lawsuit in Harris County, Texas on behalf of concertgoer Illhan Mohamud against Live Nation. Mohamud is seeking $1 million in damages for negligence and emotional distress.
"When the concert started, Plaintiff was in the middle of the crowd when suddenly and without warning, she became trapped in a deadly crowd surge," a court document said. "Crowd surges are extremely dangerous events that can occur at large concerts when too many people are packed together into too small of a space."
Crump is also representing Noah Gutierrez, 21, who claimed he helped lift several screaming people off of the floor.
The attorney said he plans to file more lawsuits on behalf of other concertgoers next week.
"We are hearing horrific accounts of the terror and helplessness people experienced – the horror of a crushing crowd and the awful trauma of watching people die while trying unsuccessfully to save them," Crump's firm said in a statement posted to Twitter Sunday. "We will be pursuing justice for all our clients who were harmed in this tragic and preventable event."
Crump is Florida-based attorney and has become the voice for the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd -- Black people whose deaths at the hands of police and vigilantes sparked a movement.
Live Nation announced it was delaying ticket sales for a Billy Joel concert at a different venue in Houston. The promoter said Monday it was assisting authorities so "the fans who attended and their families can get the answers they want and deserve."
Contemporary Services Corp., headquartered in Los Angeles, was responsible for security staff at the festival, according to county records in Texas. Representatives for the company — which advertises online as being "recognized worldwide as the pioneer, expert and only employee owned company in the crowd management field" — have not responded to emails and phone messages seeking comment.
FOX News confirmed that Texas attorney Thomas J. Henry also filed a lawsuit against Scott, as well as rapper Drake, whose real name is Aubrey Drake Graham. The suit also named Live Nation and NRG Stadium. According to a report from The Daily Mail, the suit is being filed on behalf of concert attendee Kristian Paredes, 23, from Austin, Texas. Paredes reportedly filed the complaint seeking more than $1 million in damages after both rappers allegedly "incited the crowd" and left him injured.
A separate suit filed on behalf of concert attendee Manuel Souza and confirmed by FOX News lists Scott as a defendant and accuses the "owners, operators, promoters, public relations representatives, and/or organizers of the concert and/or owners owner and operators of the premises" of "conscious disregard of the extreme risk of harm to concertgoers that had been escalating since hours earlier." The lawsuit cites a tweet Scott posted on May 5 in reaction to angry fans complaining the show was sold out, with Scott reacting that they would "still be sneaking the wild ones in."
Experts who have studied deaths caused by crowd surges say they are often a result of density — too many people packed into a small space. The crowd is often running either away from a perceived threat or toward something they want, such as a performer, before hitting a barrier.
People in the Houston crowd reported lots of pushing and shoving during the performances leading up to Scott’s set. Then, when Scott took the stage, the crowd seemed to rush to the front, trying to get closer to the stage, said Nick Johnson, a high school senior from the Houston suburb of Friendswood who was at the concert.
"Everyone was passing out around you, and everyone was trying to help each other. But you just couldn’t move. You couldn’t do anything. You can’t even pick your arms up," Johnson said. "It just got worse and worse."
Johnson said fans started to crush each other, and people started screaming. He said it felt like 100 degrees in the crowd.
Scott seemed to be aware that something was going on in the crowd, but he might not have understood the severity of the situation, Johnson said. On video posted to social media, Scott could be seen stopping the concert at one point and asking for aid for someone in the audience: "Security, somebody help real quick."
In a tweet, Scott said he was "absolutely devastated by what took place last night." He pledged to work "together with the Houston community to heal and support the families in need."
Scott, one of music’s biggest young stars, founded the Astroworld Festival in 2018. The 30-year-old Houston native has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards. He has a 3-year-old daughter with Kylie Jenner, who announced in September that she’s pregnant with their second child.
Drake joined Scott on-stage at the concert, which was livestreamed by Apple Music.
Investigators planned to examine the design of safety barriers and the use of crowd control at the event that Scott founded. Houston police and fire department investigators said they would review video taken by concert promoter Live Nation, as well as dozens of clips from people at the show. Investigators also planned to speak with Live Nation representatives, Scott and concertgoers.
Astroworld’s organizers had laid out security and emergency medical response protocols in festival plans filed with Harris County. A 56-page operations plan, obtained by The Associated Press, describes "the potential for multiple alcohol/drug related incidents, possible evacuation needs, and the ever-present threat of a mass casualty situation are identified as key concerns."
The plan instructs staff to "notify Event Control of a suspected deceased victim utilizing the code ‘Smurf’." It goes on to say, "never use the term ‘dead’ or ‘deceased’ over the radio." It’s not clear whether the protocol was followed.
None of the people listed in charge of managing Astroworld’s security and operations have responded to requests for comment.
The Associated Press. FOX 26 Houston and FOX News contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.