A Los Angeles court has ruled that the family of deceased hip hop artist Drakeo The Ruler may proceed with its wrongful death lawsuit against concert promotion giant Live Nation. The ruling comes as a blow to Live Nation, who had sought to have the case dismissed in its early stages.
Darrell Wayne Caldwell, also known as Drakeo The Ruler, was murdered at the Live Nation-promoted Once Upon A Time in L.A. Festival in December 2021, when a mob of many dozens of assailants stormed the event’s VIP area in an apparent planned attack on Drakeo and his crew, stabbing him to death.
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil claim brought to impose liability on a defendant for negligently causing the death of the plaintiff’s relative. The case was filed by Drakeo’s brother in February 2021, accusing Live Nation of negligence by failing to have proper security measures in place for the concert, especially given the show’s proximity to South Central Los Angeles, a center of heavy gang activity. There may also be criminal claims brought in this matter, although as of now, no charges have been filed, and no suspects have been named in the attack.
Live Nation sought immediately to dismiss the case, arguing that it could not have foreseen the attack and, therefore, as a matter of law, could not be held responsible for failing to provide sufficient security. Live Nation argued that the plaintiffs were required to point to a previous attack that would have made this event foreseeable.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Yolanda Orozco rejected this argument, writing that “[t]he fact that defendants knew security would be needed for the event supports the finding that the performing artists’ safety was a concern for defendants and foreseeable to defendants.” Judge Orozco further held that even if a mob attack occurred for the first time, it might still be foreseeable to Live Nation.
This ruling does not resolve the case in favor of Drakeo’s family. Instead, it means that the lawsuit will not be dismissed at the preliminary stage, and the parties will now be able to make discoveries and collect evidence supporting their respective positions. It also increases the chances that the case will eventually settle, as most patients do.
This is not the first time Live Nation has faced negligence claims in running its concerts. The company faces numerous lawsuits from the family and victims of the November 2021 Astroworld disaster, where a deadly surging crowd during a Travis Scott performance causes the deaths of ten people and injuries to hundreds of others.