As many as seven lawsuits have been filed against the festival South by Southwest by the families of the victims who were killed in a fatal car crash this year at the popular festival. Rashad Owens, the man accused in the accident drove his car through a checkpoint which had been erected to stop DUI drivers and he then plowed right through the crowd killing four individuals before he landed in the Red River.
The prosecution’s DUI attorneys charged him with capital murder and he is currently behind bars, but he is also the man accused in the lawsuit brought by the families of those who lost their lives in the fatal accident.
Lawsuits in Both Federal and State Courts
The lawsuit has been filed in courts in Texas – both federal and state – and names the private companies that organized the festival as co-defendants. The companies are SXSW Holdings INC, and SXSW LLC. The traffic design consultant whose company was part of the festivities whose responsibility was also traffic management – Patrick Lowe and the company he runs which is called Traffic Design Consultants, LLC―are also part of the defending team.
According to the DUI attorneys representing the families, the tragic accident was completely ‘foreseeable and predictable’ and the event organizers are at fault for having ignored safety regulations and violating industry standards which need to be put in place when organizing an event with live crowds. The lawsuit goes even further to say that any festival organizer or traffic design consultant with ‘ordinary intelligence’ could have anticipated a scenario in which a drunk driver ploughs his vehicle past the checkpoints and injures others.
Organizers did not Anticipate Risks
The families also contend in their lawsuit that the festival organizers should have anticipated the risk of alcohol consumption in their premises and been aware of the fact that Austin ranks as the number one DUI city in Texas. It has had the most number of public intoxication arrests this year than any other city in Texas.
The festival organizers had a Right-of-Way permit from the authorities which essentially gave them legal possession and complete control of the street where the festival was organized and where the fatal accident occurred. The DUI attorneys say that the best way to force the company organizing the events is to hold them responsible for their actions and demand an answer so that past mistakes are not repeated again.
Organizers Blame DUI Driver for Accident
South by Southwest has released a statement in response to the lawsuits saying that the accident that occurred on Red River was a tragedy caused due to Rashad Owen’s mistakes and his ‘utter disregard’ for the lives of others who were there at the festival. The event organizers look forward to a speedy prosecution for Owen but they have not said a word about their role in the accident nor owned up to the responsibility of mismanaging the traffic design which is also an important flaw in the events leading up to the final fatal situation.
The organizers may have screwed up here and they need to hone up to it.