In a ruling that could have major implications for an ongoing lawsuit concerning the fatal stabbing of Drakeo the Ruler, an appellate court has affirmed that Live Nation isn’t liable for a separate backstage murder that took place at a 2014 event.
A California federal court just recently ruled in Live Nation’s favor as part of an appeal brought by the family of Eric Johnson Jr., who was shot and killed at a concert in 2014. Held specifically at the Live Nation-operated Shoreline Amphitheatre, the event featured performances from Young Jeezy, Wiz Khalifa, Tyga, and others.
Johnson Jr., who worked in the music industry, was backstage at around 11 PM on the night of the concert, discussing plans for an afterparty featuring Young Jeezy, according to a complaint filed by his children. But following a verbal confrontation with an “unknown criminal assailant,” the 38-year-old was shot multiple times in the chest.
And in the mentioned complaint, Johnson Jr.’s children alleged (among other things) that Live Nation “knew or should have known that many of the rap artists they selected, invited, and hired to perform are known to attract violent and unruly crowds at their concerts and shows.”
Additionally, the plaintiffs claimed that the Ticketmaster parent had “failed to employ reasonable security measures to prevent guns from being brought into the” venue, including by allegedly failing to “use metal detectors to screen guests, rap artists or their entourage prior to entering the concert or the backstage area.”
Lastly, in terms of pertinent background details, Live Nation ultimately filed a motion for summary judgement, supplementing said motion with statements from the venue’s head of security and general manager. The presiding judge then granted the request, determining that the plaintiffs had submitted “no evidence of prior similar incidents that would make a shooting in the backstage area foreseeable.”
Now, as initially noted, an appeals court has affirmed the judgement, writing that Live Nation’s “control over the security of the backstage area was limited.”
“The undisputed evidence establishes that two hours before the show, Live Nation performed a security sweep of the venue for various suspicious items, including weapons,” the ruling reads, reiterating also that the relatively limited backstage security had resulted from artists’ own “security protocols.”
“In this instance, the headliner requested that the backstage area be cleared of any police presence for his performance unless specifically requested by his security to respond to a situation,” today’s ruling states.
“He also detailed the number and location of security guards to be stationed backstage,” the text continues. “Finally, the headliner indicated that his production team, rather than the venue, would be responsible for issuing backstage passes.”
Though it’s unclear how the victim received one of these passes and made his way backstage, the court emphasized that Live Nation’s obligation to protect attendees didn’t automatically extend to the area where the shooting occurred.
“While concert attendees may be dependent on Live Nation to provide adequate security, as the above evidence demonstrated, the same is not necessarily true of the artists and their guests while in the backstage area,” the document reads towards its end.