In the aftermath of the Astroworld crowd surge incident that claimed eight lives and injured hundreds, people are taking a second look at the contracts they signed when they bought tickets from Live Nation. Given that Live Nation has a long history of high-casualty events, the company made sure that every attendee signed an arbitration clause when they bought a ticket. The Houston Chronicle did a recent report on the waiver language, which forces any ticket-buyer to settle disputes through Live Nation rather than in court.
Arbitration clauses are standard in many contracts; all of us have signed an arbitration clause at some point in our lives. However, with potentially several hundred people dealing with crush injuries from Astroworld Music Festival, an arbitration clause could have serious consequences.
So, what is an arbitration clause?
The Arbitration Clause vs. Your Right to a Jury Trial
When you’ve been wronged, you have the right to demand a jury trial. No one can take that away from you; however, you can waive that right. In some cases, you can waive that right without realizing. Arbitration clauses are the most common legal device by which people sign away their right to a trial.
In essence, arbitration clauses state that in return for a benefit (e.g. employment, refund, etc.), you waive your right to sue for damages in court. Instead, whatever dispute you may have in the future with the other party will be decided in arbitration, presided over by an arbitrator. Arbitration is a private affair, without the benefit of a jury, but the results of arbitration are as legally binding as a jury verdict.
It’s worth noting that arbitrators are chosen by the parties involved, not the court. Functionally, that means your dispute will be decided by someone the company has chosen for this purpose.
It is not an advantageous position for plaintiffs.
Does That Mean I Can’t File a Lawsuit?
Even if ticket contracts include an arbitration clause, you may still be entitled to a jury trial. There have been cases where arbitration clauses were unenforceable, meaning the court ignored them. Additionally, arbitration clauses are never enforceable when the victim is a minor.
Arnold & Itkin is representing over 100 people who were harmed at Astroworld. We’re pouring all our resources, time, and effort into making sure that Live Nation, Travis Scott, and others at fault are held accountable by paying for their victims’ recoveries. If you were among the injured, call us. Let’s see if we can help.