Travis Scott, Live Nation and others behind Astroworld have hired elite lawyers at top national law firms to represent them in the upcoming legal battles over the deadly music festival, including both a veteran of the OJ Simpson civil trial and an experienced mass injury litigator.
The festival organizers are facing more than 250 lawsuits over Astroworld, which left 10 dead and hundreds more injured after a crowd surge during Scott’s Nov. 5 concert. As of Wednesday, the cases represent more than 850 separate people who say they were injured or lost loved ones, and are seeking billions in total damages.
To handle such a massive case, Scott has turned to Daniel Petrocelli, the head of litigation at O’Melveny & Myers LLP, a Los Angeles-based firm with one of the top entertainment practices in the country. A firm spokeswoman confirmed that Petrocelli would represent Scott, joined by firm partners Steve Brody and Sabrina Strong.
Petrocelli is a major name in the legal world. He gained notoriety in the 1990s by winning an $8.5 wrongful death lawsuit against O.J. Simpson following his criminal acquittal. Petrocelli later defended former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling against criminal charges of fraud and insider trading, on which he was convicted in 2006.
In recent years, Petrocelli has become a go-to attorney for high-profile entertainment cases. He defended Walt Disney against Scarlett Johansson’s accusations that she was underpaid for “Black Widow,” and he’s representing Kesha in a lawsuit that claims she defamed music producer Dr. Luke by accusing him of rape. He was just tapped earlier this month by Penguin Random House to beat federal accusations that its $2 billion merger with Simon & Schuster will violate antitrust law.
Meanwhile, Live Nation — the other primary defendant in the Astroworld lawsuits — has hired Neal Manne, a managing partner at Susman Godfrey, a boutique law firm known as one of the top litigation shops in the country. A source at the firm with knowledge of the situation confirmed the hiring.
Though carrying a slightly lower profile than Petrocelli, Manne is also a big name in the legal world — and he has more experience in the kind of “mass tort” cases that the Astroworld defendants are facing. He served as lead defense counsel in the sprawling litigation that resulted from the 1996 explosion in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, which left 33 dead and dozens injured. He’s also handled dozens of injury and wrongful death cases for Walmart.
Another defendant in the Astroworld cases, venue manager ASM Global, has hired Norton Rose Fulbright, a giant global law firm that currently ranks as the second largest in the United States. A firm spokesman confirmed the hiring and said the team would be led by attorneys Brett Young, Kevin Yankowsky, Jeff Webb and Peter Tipps.
Other major defendants in the Astroworld lawsuits include Apple Inc., which filmed and live-streamed the event, and the municipal Harris County Sports & Convention Corporation. Attorneys for those defendants are not yet known.
The newly-hired defense attorneys are facing a formidable team of plaintiff’s attorneys, too.
One large case filed by over 100 victims is being handled by Tony Buzbee, a well-known injury attorney in the Houston area who previously helped win a a $2.1 billion settlement for victims of a 2005 explosion at a BP refinery that killed 15 people and injured 170.
Another major case, on behalf of more than 200 victims, is being led by Benjamin Crump, who rose to prominence by representing the families of Trayvon Martin, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. Crump also represented victims of the Flint water crisis brought Johnson & Johnson over allegations of carcinogenic baby powder.