A Georgia jury has handed down a $160 million verdict against Sony Music for the company’s alleged “role in failing to protect” the victims of a deadly shooting that occurred at a Cousin Stizz concert in 2017.
A jury in DeKalb County, Georgia, found Sony partially liable for the incident earlier this month, though the multimillion-dollar verdict had largely flown under the radar until today. The fatal shooting at the center of the case took place at Underground Atlanta’s Masquerade venue in November of 2017, during a show headlined by Cousin Stizz.
Before the Boston-born rapper (who’s released multiple albums via Sony Music’s RCA) started performing, an attendee shot four individuals, according to local reports. Regional outlets likewise indicated that the deadly occurrence had followed a brief dispute, and 23-year-old Jonathan Bautista was reportedly arrested in connection with the shooting.
Two of the victims, 21-year-old Ewell Ynoa and 22-year-old Giovan Diaz, both of whom were reportedly aspiring rappers, perished due to their wounds. Rachel St. Fleur, the administrator of Ewell Ynoa’s estate, sued in June of 2018, and Xavier Diaz, who was representing the estate of Giovan Diaz, filed a separate complaint. The suits were ultimately consolidated and heard at the recent trial.
“They argued a little bit and left it as is,” Ewell Ynoa’s brother told Fox 5 Atlanta of the verbal exchange that preceded the shooting, which reportedly unfolded as the victims were on stage and hyping up the crowd. “Something that didn’t even last a minute. And then from there, they ended up getting killed.”
As initially mentioned, Sony Music has now been ordered to pay $160 million for its alleged failure to protect those who attended the show.
Montgomery, Alabama-headquartered law firm Beasley Allen detailed the verdict via a formal release, and in a statement, attorney Parker Miller acknowledged that the trial had been “incredibly emotional” for the victims’ families and friends.
“Obviously, these types of cases do not come around often. This was a mass shooting in a crowded concert. There were multiple deaths, and Gio and Wells suffered significantly before losing their fight for life, as eyewitnesses outlined,” Miller said.
“The trial was incredibly emotional because of what these families, and the world, lost. One of these men had been told he would be a father just a few hours before the shooting happened. Combine that with the fact the concert endangered everyone, and this Defendant refused to participate in the legal process, and you get the type of verdict we saw here,” he finished.
At the time of this writing, Sony Music didn’t appear to have addressed the verdict in a formal release or a post on its website. About 10 days ago, multiple individuals passed away (with many others having suffered injuries) as a result of a crowd crush at London’s Brixton Academy. The Brixton has since shut down.