Texas Appellate Court Refuses to Lift ‘Gag Order’ Covering Astroworld Litigation

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A Texas appellate court has officially refused to lift a gag order covering hundreds of lawsuits filed against Live Nation over the Astroworld tragedy.

A three-justice panel just recently rejected a challenge to the seemingly far-reaching gag order, which Judge Kristen Hawkins implemented back in February of 2022. After a motion to reconsider said order failed to bring about the desired result at the trial court level, ABC News in July of last year appealed with a petition for writ of mandamus.

In the latter, ABC News claimed that the so-called “publicity order” had prevented “attorneys and others involved in the Astroworld litigation from speaking publicity [sic] about a wide range of topics.” The outlet and its legal team likewise claimed that the “sweeping restrictions on speech” had been instituted “without making specific findings required under the Texas and U.S. Constitution” and had “infringed the right to gather news and receive information.”

“Besides violating clear constitutional principles, the Gag Order has restricted the flow of accurate, newsworthy information not only about the Astroworld litigation but also about the Astroworld Festival,” ABC News attorneys wrote. “Since the court issued the Gag Order, individuals with even a remote connection to the Astroworld Festival have been silenced for fear of violating its broad and vague provisions.”

Notwithstanding these and related arguments against the order, however, the initially mentioned appellate court ruling appears poised to keep the measure – and the corresponding lack of media comments – in place for the foreseeable future.

“We deny the petition,” the panel (consisting of Justices Goodman, Landau, and Rivas-Molloy) penned in a detail-barren memorandum opinion. While the opinion obviously doesn’t shed light upon the exact reasons behind the rejection, law outlets have noted that ABC News will be able to appeal the ruling to the Texas Supreme Court.

At the time of this writing, ABC News and its attorneys didn’t look to have commented publicly on the development, which arrives about 19 months after a crowd rush resulted in 10 deaths and a substantial number of injuries at Travis Scott’s Astroworld in Houston.

Though Scott faced career setbacks – including disruptions on the sponsorship and performance sides – in the wake of the deadly episode, it didn’t take especially long for the artist to resume headlining festivals and appearing at media events.

Additionally, the Ticketmaster owner Live Nation (which certainly isn’t a stranger to litigation) in late 2022 quietly began settling certain of the resulting lawsuits – including one action submitted by the family of a 16-year-old who perished in the tragedy.