Drake Cleared from Astroworld Festival Lawsuit Amid Grave Tragedy


In a definitive ruling, Canadian hip-hop artist Aubrey Drake Graham, popularly known as Drake, has been absolved from a lawsuit arisng from the catastrophic 2021 Astroworld music festival in Houston, where a frenzied crush in the crowd claimed 10 lives.

Drake had been a surprise addition to the festival, appearing alongside the Rap magnate Travis Scott, who was the main feature of the event. On the fateful day of November 5, 2021, Drake and Scott delivered high octane performances, ironically mirroring the surging crowd of fans barely able to breathe or move due to the crushing human gridlock. Despite efforts by authorities and festival organizers to bring the concert to a premature end, the tragedy unfolded.

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The relatives of those who tragically lost their lives, as well as the countless injured in the chaos, pointed their fingers at Drake, Scott, and Live Nation — the festival’s chief promoter, accompanied by a litany of other individuals and companies, pushing the legal responsibility onto their shoulders.

All of the defendants, Drake and Scott among them, appealed to state District Judge Kristen Hawkins for a dismissal of the mounting lawsuits. In a succinct order issued on Wednesday, Hawkins ruled in favor of Drake, formally exempting him from the legal proceedings.

Drake’s legal team had argued fervently during an April 1 court appearance in Houston that the celebrated rapper was not implicated in the orchestrating of the festival, thus absolving him from any liability for the ensuing fatalities and injuries.

During a deposition held in Toronto in November, Drake argued that at the moment he graced the stage, he had not been informed about the escalating crises in the crowd, which ranged from cardiac arrests to a host of other injuries. He likened his onstage vista of the crowd to a blow of blurred faces, saying he was virtually unable to discern any distinct details.

In the heat of his deposition, Drake was presented with a video taken by the youngest casualty of the tragedy, Ezra Blount, a mere 9-year-old who had been perched on his father’s shoulders. On viewing the video, Drake conceded to seeing discernable panic distorting the faces of the concert-goers.

When prodded by an attorney acting on behalf of the Blount family about whether it was salient for him to seek answers from the festival organizers about the circumstances leading to the young fan’s death, Drake agreed, expressing his need for answers.

However, on Monday, Judge Hawkins dismissed the charges against seven companies and individuals named in the lawsuit, while rejecting the pleas for dismissal by several other defendant parties. Among those still ensnared in the lawsuit are tech giant Apple Inc., who streamed the doomed festival live, and a couple of companies linked to Travis Scott.

The Houston Police, after concluding their investigation, declared that Scott would not be facing any charges. A grand jury ruling in June upheld this decision, declining to indict him, as well as any other individuals, on any criminal counts relating to the festival tragedy. The police department publicized its comprehensive, close to 1300-page investigative report in July, warning of a possible catastrophe due to festival organizational glitches.

The victims of the festival disaster, the youngest being only 9 and the oldest 27, perished from compression asphyxia, described by experts as akin to being run over by a car.

The preliminary trial drawn from the lawsuits leveled is slated for May 6. Some of the lawsuits have since been settled, including those issued by family members of four of the deceased. The latest settlements were revealed on Feb. 5 in court records, with the family of 23-year-old Rodolfo “Rudy” Peña publicly declaring their case had been settled.