Insurance Coverage For Astroworld: Travis Scott's Intent Should Not Be A Factor For Insurance Coverage

Published date19 November 2021
Subject MatterInsurance, Insurance Laws and Products
Law FirmMiller Friel
AuthorMr Benjamin W. Massarsky

In the wake of the recent tragic events at the music festival, Astroworld, in which at least 10 people lost their lives and hundreds more were injured, the festival's insurers should honor their coverage obligations and defend and resolve the lawsuits that have already begun to accrue.1 But, insurance coverage for the Astroworld tragedy will be an issue.

No small amount of blame for the Astroworld tragedy has been laid at the hands of the festival's showrunner, Travis Scott. Characterizations of Scott's past statements and the often-chaotic nature of his shows have become the focus of heavy criticism, with several of the pending lawsuits against Scott and Live Nation Worldwide Inc. - the company that organized the festival -claiming he created "dangerous conditions for concertgoers."2

As tempting as it may be for some insurance companies to assume that the allegations against Scott foreclose coverage, their assertions are premature at best. Coverage will depend on Scott's actual intent when he took the stage that night. This is a fact-intensive inquiry that, at present, strongly suggests the Astroworld tragedy should be covered.

Travis Scott, "Raging" and Astroworld

Travis Scott is an artist who initially burst onto the scene because of his live performances, engendering a rowdy "kind of community-based catharsis" according to a recent New York Times article about the tragedy.3 He is known for purportedly encouraging his audiences to "rage," a term he has articulated to mean "having fun and expressing good feelings," but that has the look and effect of making his concerts feel like a professional wrestling match.4

Scott is alleged to have encouraged his audiences to take the "rage" experience too far. In 2017, a fan jumped from a second-floor balcony at one of his shows, resulting in partial paralysis.5 And on two occasions, Scott was arrested for purportedly urging fans to overwhelm security and join him onstage.6

Perhaps in anticipation of Scott's style, as well as experience with past Astro world festivals, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner reportedly "visited Scott in his trailer before the show and 'conveyed concerns about the energy in the crowd.'"7 Nonetheless, at Astroworld Scott supposedly "hyp[ed] the crowd to 'rage'" and exclaimed, "[y]a'll know what we came to do."8

Insurance Coverage Law Requires Us to Ask: What Did Travis Scott Intend?

Scott's history of allegedly encouraging his audiences to "rage" coupled with the warnings he received prior to his performance at Astroworld begs the most important question for insurance coverage - what did he intend?

Intent and liability in the festival or concert context commonly involves the adequacy of safety preparations and the...

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