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Astroworld Festival concert promoter has previous safety violations

The concert promoter behind the Astroworld Festival has been cited for safety issues in the past by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, records show.

Live Nation Entertainment, the largest live music promoter in the world, has been fined or sued for issues ranging from unruly crowds to equipment failures at various venues and concerts in the past decade. 

The security measures in place at Friday's Travis Scott-fronted music festival in Houston are among the numerous protocols that will be scrutinized. Eight people ranging in age from 14 to 27 were killed and hundreds injured in a crowd surge during Scott's headlining set. 

Astroworld: Everything we know about the tragedy at Travis Scott's music festival

“It may well be this tragedy is the result of … events and couldn’t possibly have been avoided,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo at a news conference Saturday. “Live Nation had a security plan with NRG Park. Perhaps the plan was inadequate. Perhaps (plans) were good and weren’t followed. Perhaps it was something else entirely.”

During a news conference at the Wyndham Hotel in Houston on Nov. 6, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo addresses the crowd surge during the Astroworld Festival the day before.

At this year's event at the 350-acre NRG Park, where the festival has been held since its 2018 inception, 528 Houston Police Department officers provided security, with an additional 755 private security members from Live Nation, according to Hidalgo. 

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said that Live Nation planned to hand over video footage from the event, and that officials are also relying on interviews with Scott’s team and witnesses at the concert to piece together what may have led to the deadly crowd surge.

Astroworld witnesses: What fans experienced during the festival tragedy

Live Nation released a statement pledging to support investigations: "Heartbroken for those lost and impacted at Astroworld last night. We will continue working to provide as much information and assistance as possible to the local authorities as they investigate the situation."

In 2019, prior to the pandemic shutting down the live music industry, Live Nation estimated about 98 million fans attended their shows worldwide. 

Travis Scott performs at the Astroworld music festival at NRG Park in Houston on Nov. 5, 2021.

Why was Live Nation previously sued or cited?

► In 2019, the company was fined $5,350 for an accident a year earlier in which an employee walking near a staging area was struck in the head by a six-foot metal post.

► Separately, Live Nation Entertainment and singer Gwen Stefani were sued in federal court by Lisa Keri Stricklin for injuries she suffered during Stefani’s July 23, 2016, concert at the PNC Pavilion in Charlotte, North Carolina.

According to the court complaint, concert patrons were initially seated in a reserved section and lawn seats. During the concert, Stefani made an impromptu announcement that patrons in the lawn seats could move to the reserve section and “fill in anywhere you like.”

“This announcement created a stampede of patrons … with many patrons knocking over and breaching the security barricades,” the lawsuit alleged.

Stricklin alleged that she was “trampled by the rush of patrons,” resulting in severe physical injuries, including a broken leg.

Attorneys for all parties in the lawsuit signed a stipulation of dismissal on March 12, 2019, a move that typically signals an out-of-court settlement that ends a case. 

► Live Nation was penalized $4,250 in a settlement for a 2011 accident in which an employee working as a rigger had a finger crushed while removing a cable. The finger was later amputated.

► In 2020, tour manager and sound engineer Jared Jackson sued Live Nation and several other defendants for negligence, alleging he was injured in an onstage fall after he warned of "unsafe" conditions at the 2017 Paradiso Festival at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Washington, where he was hired to work for some of the artists on the bill.

During the performance, Jackson "fell through an eight-foot by eight-foot gap in the stage, which was covered with decorative camouflage netting," according to his lawsuit. "(Jackson) fell approximately 12 feet, suffering severe injuries to his legs and body."

He asserts his medical bills have reached $230,000 and his loss of income and earning capacity topped $100,000.   

"The chaotic nature of such large events creates great risk," Jason Kafoury told USA TODAY. He's an Oregon lawyer who is one of Jackson's attorneys. "Live Nation’s history shows its focus on profits over public safety. Ensuring accountability through the civil jury system is essential."  

USA TODAY has reached out to Jackson's lawyers and to lawyers for Live Nation.

Contributing: Maria Puente, USA TODAY