South By Southwest is supposed to be a time to let loose and enjoy music, films, and the interactive conferences that are held, but this year’s festivities took a turn for the worse when a drunk idiot tried to evade police at a D.U.I. checkpoint which resulted in him killing several people and injuring dozens more.
Now, almost a year after the horrific incident took place, seven lawsuit have been filed again SXSW by the families of those killed in the fatal crash that took place in the early hours of March 13, 2014 on Red River, according to the Associated Press.
The wrongful death lawsuit have been filed in both federal and Texas state court.
But, the festival and their private companies, SXSW Holdings INC. and SXSW LLC aren’t the only ones being named in the suits, the traffic consulting firm, Traffic Design Consultants, LLC and the person who headed the project, Patrick Lowe, have also been named.
One of the suits claims that the tragedy was “foreseeable and predictable” and that all those involved, especially the festival, ignored safety regulations and industry standards by not using “rigid barriers.”
“A festival organizer or traffic design consultant of ordinary intelligence would have anticipated danger” cites one of the lawsuits.
They also claim that the festival and everyone involved should have anticipated that something would happen due to all the excessive alcohol consumption that was going on. The suit even cited that Austin is the “number one for alcohol consumption in Texas.”
But, it sill does not end there. The lawsuit also says that the festival’s Right-Of-Way permit puts them in “legal possession of the street where the crash occurred.”
“The only way to force a private company like South by Southwest to take action in the future is to hold them accountable for their failures in the past,” states Scott Hendler, the attorney for one of the families.
“Otherwise, there’s no incentive for them to do anything different.”
Lizzy Plug, the wife of one of the first victim’s identified as Steven Craenmehr mirrored her attorney’s sentiment.
“South by Southwest is accountable for this tragedy, in my thoughts.”
In the response to the lawsuit SXSW have released the following statement:
“What happened on Red River was a terrible tragedy, caused by Rashad Owen’s utter disregard of human life. Our hearts continue to ache for those injured and the families of those who lost their lives. We look forward to his prosecution for his awful crimes.”
In September, a report sanctioned by SXSW done by the city of Austin revealed that crowd management issues including traffic congestion attributed to the crash.
The report also revealed that the city might also have some blame because of the overcrowding of venues and the high consumption of alcohol compromised the
Due to the report, the festival has already planned to minimize the amount of unofficial event surrounding them including the FADER Fort and the Hype Hotel. As of now, SXSW is asking for the city to limit the amount of permits distributed for events that require temporary permits.
As for the man behind all of this tragedy, Rashad Owens, he is currently in jail on capital murder charges. He is also being sued by the families.