A state judge in California ruled that a lawsuit brought by the family of a teenager who died of dehydration caused by drug consumption at the 2015 Hard Summer Music Festival can continue, reversing a lower court’s summary judgement in favor of Live Nation. Judge Dan Thomas found that “an operator of electronic music festivals like Live Nation owes a duty of reasonable care to festival attendees,” according to documents reviewed by Pitchfork.
Live Nation was one of several entities sued by the family of Katie Dix in the wake of the festival. Dix, a college student at the time of her death, had MDMA and Ethylone in her system per toxicology reports, contributing to her death by dehydration. Her family filed suit in July of 2016, alleging that Live Nation, Los Angeles County Fair Association, Los Angeles County and the city of Pomona were negligent in her death due to their failure to prevent distribution and consumption of illegal drugs at the event.
In the initial trial, the court granted Live Nation’s request for summary judgement in the matter. But the family appealed, leading to the reinstatement of the case.
“The Dixes contend that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment because Live Nation owed a duty of care to music festival attendees and that triable issues of material fact exist on their negligence cause of action,” reads Thomas’ ruling, in part. “Because of its special relationship with festival attendees, an operator of electronic music festivals like Live Nation owes a duty of reasonable care to festival attendees. Whether Live Nation breached its duty and caused Katie’s death are for the jury to determine. Therefore, we reverse.”
Following this decision, the case will return to trial court, where the family will argue that the failure of the event organizer’s documented plans to deal with illegal substances and medical emergencies makes them liable for several causes of action, including the wrongful death of Dix.