Is Apple Liable for Astroworld Deaths? — A Houston Appeals Court Is Now Addressing That Question

is Apple liable for deaths that occurred at Astroworld
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is Apple liable for deaths that occurred at Astroworld
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Photo Credit: Apple Music

Is Apple liable for the deaths that occurred during the Astroworld concert that it livestreamed? The first civil trial of the Astroworld tragedy has been delayed as the tech giant seeks dismissal from the lawsuit.

The civil trial for this case was set to begin next week, but a court order from the Houston Appeals Court has the case on hold while the Apple appeal is considered. Lawyers for the parents of festival victim Madison Dubiski called the delay a “bad faith filing to try and derail this trial setting.” The appeals court judge Sarah Beth Landau has granted Apple until May 10 to make its case for dismissal.

So why is Apple named in the lawsuit? The Astroworld 2021 festival was livestreamed on the Apple Music platform. Travis Scott teamed up with Apple to secure millions of dollars to build the mountain-shaped stage for that year’s festival. As part of the contract, Scott was required to finish the concert to get paid.

Plaintiffs in the civil case allege that space taken up by Apple’s cameras to film the event displaced around 1,000 patrons at the over-crowded venue. Meanwhile, Apple disputes the view that its cameras contributed to festival overcrowding. Instead, Apple argues that it cannot face liability because it was operating as a news company when the disaster occurred.

“Choosing to broadcast an event is what makes an entity a member of the media,” Apple lawyer Kent Rutter argued. “Even if they’re just broadcasting an event, that is surely enough.” Rutter also argues that the placement of the cameras was part of the creative process in putting on the show, and so they should be protected from litigation.

So far, 11th District Court Judge Kristen Brauchle Hawkins has denied motions from Travis Scott, his companies, Live Nation, and several security companies to have themselves dismissed from this case. She has also rejected Scott’s attempt to bar discussion at the trial of his stopping of the concert, which plaintiff’s argue contributed to the death toll and injury count.