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2021 Astroworld Festival Tragedy: Negligent Hiring, Training, and Supervision

A tragedy unfolded on November 5, 2021 at the Astroworld Festival that was held in Houston, Texas. There were an estimated 100,000 tickets sold for the event. With an anticipated crowd size of that magnitude, a significant number of security personnel were undoubtedly needed. However, failure to control the crowd of concertgoers resulted in the death of eight people, all of whom were killed when a stampede of concertgoers rushed the stage.

Numerous individuals who were hired as security personnel have claimed that the concert organizers failed to properly vet, train, and prepare them for the event. It has been alleged by many of the security personnel that they were hired just days before the event. Some of the individuals hired as security personnel stated that they participated in mass interviews without having to disclose their qualifications. Other individuals hired said that no briefings were held leading up to the concert, that security personnel were simply given work assignments and told where to report within the venue.

What Went Wrong: The Role of Astroworld Organizers

The resulting deaths and injuries from the Astroworld event have created a significant liability for its organizers. An employer is directly liable when harm is caused by the employer's negligence in selecting, training, retaining, supervising, or otherwise controlling its employees. Negligent hiring and negligent supervision are torts founded upon an employer’s breach of its duty to the public. Courts have held that employers whose employees are brought into contact with members of the public within the course of their employment are responsible for exercising a duty of reasonable care in the selection or retention of employees.

Negligent Duty of Care

Negligence occurs when a duty exists, when that duty is breached, and when injury or harm results from the breach of that duty. At the Astroworld event, the concert organizers breached their duty to the concert attendees. The concert organizers’ primary duty was to keep the attendees safe at the concert venue. They failed to do so.

  • The concert organizers breached their duty when they failed to properly screen and vet candidates for the position of security personnel.
  • The concert organizers breached their duty to the concert attendees when they failed to train and prepare the individuals they hired as security personnel.

The concert organizers knew that tens of thousands of concertgoers would attend the event. It was foreseeable that injuries could occur if proper crowd-control measures were not in place. Unfortunately, the concert organizers’ breach of their duties resulted in harm that was foreseeable.

Negligent Hiring Practices

An employer’s breach of duty extends beyond events like the one at Astroworld. Employers have an obligation to use reasonable care in selecting and retaining employees. An employer violates this duty when it hires or retains an employee that it knows or should know is unfit or incompetent to perform the work required.

Negligent hiring is classified by these fundamental requirements:

  • It must be shown that, irrespective of whether the employee was acting within the scope of his/her employment, the employer knew or had reason to know of the particular unfitness, incompetence, or dangerous attributes of the employee.
  • It needs to be foreseeable that such qualities created a risk of harm to other persons.
  • It must also be shown that through the employer’s negligence in hiring the employee, the employee’s incompetence, unfitness or dangerous characteristics directly caused the injury.

The employer’s breach of duties is not limited to employee-imposed injuries sustained by customers or the general public. Employees can also seek damages when they are sexually harassed by a co-worker or supervisor, when the employer has negligently selected, hired, trained, or supervised the offending employee.

For more information about negligent hiring, negligent supervision, and negligent training, contact The Law Firm of Morgan Rooks, P.C. today: (856) 746-6332.

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