A Los Angeles judge has rejected Live Nation’s first attempt to end a wrongful death lawsuit over the 2021 murder of Drakeo The Ruler at a music festival, ruling that the late rapper’s family might have a valid case against the concert giant.
In a decision issued on Wednesday (Jan. 11), Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Yolanda Orozco denied Live Nation’s motion to dismiss the case at the outset, ruling that the lawsuit’s allegations, if later proven to be true, could put the company on the hook for Drakeo’s killing.
“[The lawsuit] sufficiently alleges that security was lax at the second checkpoint and that despite the presence of security guards and metal detectors, some vehicles were not adequately searched or not searched at all, thus allowing the assailants to enter the ‘all-access VIP’ area,” Judge Orozco wrote in the ruling.
Seeking to dismiss the case at the outset, Live Nation had argued that the mob attack on Drakeo backstage at the Once Upon A Time in L.A. festival was a unique tragedy and not the kind of thing a concert promoter could have “foreseen” in planning the event — a key requirement in any such negligence case. But in her ruling, Judge Orozco rejected that argument.
“The 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,” the judge wrote.
Wednesday’s ruling is not a decision on the merits of the allegations; it merely allows the case to move forward into discovery, where Drakeo’s family will be able to gather evidence. They will then need to show factual proof that their allegations are true.
A rep for Live Nation did not immediately return a request for comment on Thursday.
Then a rising star in the hip hop world, Drakeo the Ruler (real name Darrell Caldwell) was attacked by a large group of assailants and stabbed repeatedly on Dec. 18 while preparing to perform at Once Upon a Time in L.A. The rapper was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, where he later died from his injuries. The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating the attack, but no criminal charges have yet been filed and a suspect has not been named.
Drakeo’s brother, Devante Caldwell, filed the current lawsuit in February, accusing Live Nation of legal negligence over security measures at the concert that he claimed ranged from “lackadaisical to totally absent.” He said Live Nation should have known that nearby South Central Los Angeles was “rife with gang activity” and should have beefed up protection accordingly.
In seeking to toss the case out, Live Nation’s attorneys argued back in July that such generalizations were not enough to legally put the company on the hook for the attack; they said Caldwell’s lawyers needed to point to a specific previous attack that could have raised red flags for Live Nation. But on Wednesday, Judge Orozco rejected that argument — ruling that a broader awareness of danger could suffice.
“Although the occurrence of a mob/gang attack may have occurred for the first time, defendants may nevertheless be held liable if the facts show that the danger was foreseeable and/or preventable,” the judge wrote.
Devante Caldwell’s lawyer, Jovan Blacknell, did not immediately return a request for comment on the decision.
Read the entire decision here: