Legal Liability for Injury and Death at Louisiana Crowded Venues and Concerts

April 25, 2022 General

Legal Liability for Injury and Death at Louisiana Crowded Venues and Concerts

The deaths and injuries that recently took place at the Astroworld Festival in Houston, Texas, have brought grief to families and the whole community. Investigations are ongoing and, ultimately, the venue owners and the organizers of the festival will be held legally liable for the horrific events. There are even suggestions that criminal behavior occurred and might be prosecuted.

Here in Louisiana, meeting venues, music concerts, festivals and sport facilities can be held liable if there is a failure to prevent Astroworld-like tragedies from occurring. If injury and death do occur, the victims and their families have a legal right to make insurance claims and sue for compensation. All public venues are required to have very large insurance coverage. Legal liability is particularly likely where injuries or fatalities occur at a promoted event with large expected crowds that is planned, hosted and conducted by a business. For example, as long ago as 1974, Louisiana courts held that a business was liable when they failed to make adequate preparations for a large crowd that was expected to attend a well-publicized Labor Day promotional event. See Stewart v. Gibson Products Co. of Natchitoches Parish Louisiana Inc., 300 So.2d 870 (La.App. 3d Cir.1974). The business was held liable for not conducting a safety investigation before hosting the event, for not recognizing the dangers that crowed participants might be injured by “enthusiastic and careless crowd movements,” and for failing to have adequate security personnel, features, and protocols. The Astroworld Festival would certainly meet that definition.

Legal liability is tricky and complex for what is often called “crowd crush” accidents. Thus, it is important to seek the legal advice and assistance of experienced Louisiana personal injury attorneys — like those at Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick LLC. — to handle your case. As a contrary example from the one above, Harrah’s was held not liable for an injury that was supposedly caused when a crowd scrambled to get Superbowl t-shirts that were thrown into the crowd. See Zacher v. Harrah’s New Orleans Mgmt. Co., 136 So. 3d 132 (La: Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit 2014). The court concluded that the facts did not demonstrate liability. At best, only a few t-shirts were thrown to the crowd; there was no evidence that the t-shirt throwing created a commotion or disturbance in the crowd, and there was a 10- to 15-minute gap between the t-shirt throwing and the injury sustained by the claimant when she was knocked to the floor by another person in the crowd, and there were no other reports of injury, accident or arrest on Harrah’s property that day. Further, Harrah’s had increased its security staffing and protocols for the expected crowd.

Part of establishing legal liability for “crowd crush” accidents in Louisiana is conducting a “duty-risk” analysis. Courts will consider what a venue owner did (or did not do) and consider whether the action created a foreseeable risk of harm that led to injury. The court will also evaluate whether other actions could have been taken that would have been less hazardous. Thus, in the Stewart case linked above, the business threw ping-pong balls to the crowd marked with discounts ranging from 5% to 25%, which could be applied to the purchase of merchandise. Injuries occurred in the resulting crowd melee. Among other failings, the court noted that there were other effective methods of advertising and promotion that would have involved less risk of harm to customers.

Our Attorneys Can Help

For more information, contact the Louisiana personal injury lawyers at Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick LLC. We have a proven track record of success handling many types of Louisiana personal injury cases, including car accidents, boating accidents, motorcycle accidents, premises liability accidents, and cases involving nursing care facility abuse/neglect. Contact us by calling one of our offices: New Orleans at (504) 500-1108, Baton Rouge at (225) 612-0800, or Lafayette at (337) 409-0003. You can also request a free consultation by using our “Contact Us” page.