No Bystanders

In his massively successful, triple-platinum 2018 album “Astroworld,” American rapper Travis Scott  got the party started with the high-charged rap anthem, ‘NO BYSTANDERS.’ It was an up-tempo call-to-arms, full of rage and rebellion. As it turns out, it may also have been a little prophetic.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock lately, you will have heard all about the calamity that erupted during Travis Scott’s recent Astroworld concert in Texas, which saw a devastating crowd-crush leave at least 10 people dead, hundreds injured, and Mr Scott up to his neck in lawsuits.

Local police have claimed that festival goers were overcome in a surge of fans near the stage, many passing out and collapsing while the rapper continued to perform for almost 40 minutes after the tragedy first began to unfold. Now the injured and their families, either individually or by way of class action, are lining up in their droves to claim monetary damages from Travis Scott and his events team for the terrible disaster.

The awful events of the Astroworld concert may revive bitter memories for those avid festival ravers who attended the popular Australian event, Falls Festival, in the summer of 2016. Falls 2016 saw a similar stampede by music fans which left dozens of festival goers with a range of devastating injuries, both emotional and physical. The Falls incident ultimately resulted in a class action by 77 participants, to whom the promoters and organisers ultimately agreed to fork out a total of $5,700,000 in damages.

Can a performer be held responsible for such a precipitous and unanticipated tragedy? Maybe. In Australia, civil liability laws say that to prove negligence, or a breach of one’s duty of care, all you need to prove is that (a) there was a foreseeable risk, (b) that risk was not insignificant, and (c) in the circumstances, a reasonable person would have taken appropriate precautions.

US law is not too dissimilar. Which begs the question, will Travis Scott have to pay out millions to the people who were injured or lost their lives at the Astroworld concert, or was his video apology enough to appease his legion of fans? If not, Cactus Jack may have to tone down his lavish life style considerably to contend with what’s next to come, if only to pay for his lawyers.

As to what may be the ultimate outcome, see another song on the “Astroworld” album, called simply ‘CAN’T SAY.’

Tess Maddison

Queensland Lawyer

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