The family of a festival-goer who died due to drug-related causes has moved to end their wrongful death lawsuit against Live Nation following an announcement that there were settlement negotiations underway. Pitchfork reports that several legal experts believe that the parties have reached a settlement agreement.
The festival-goer was Katie Dix, who was 19 years old at the time she attended the 2015 Hard Summer Music Festival in Pomona, California, where she allegedly had to wait more than 30 minutes for medical attention after collapsing from an overdose on what she had allegedly believed was pure MDMA, but turned out to be a form of “bath salts” according to a toxicology report. Dix was eventually hospitalized, where she suffered a cardiac arrest and passed away subsequently.
In 2016, her parents Mark and Pamela Dix filed a lawsuit against event organizer Live Nation, the Los Angeles County Fair Association, Los Angeles County and the city of Pomona. They claimed that those parties had been negligent and allegedly failed to uphold their duties to protect people from distributing or consuming illicit substances at the event.
An initial summary judgement ruled in favor of Live Nation, but Superior Court of Los Angeles County Judge Dan Thomas Oki reversed that decision, saying “an operator of electronic music festivals like Live Nation owes a duty of reasonable care to festival attendees,” meaning Live Nation would have to prove that they were not responsible for Dix’s death in front of a jury trial.
The Dix’s attorneys claim that Dix could have been saved had she received quicker treatment, alleging that the event was overcrowded and understaffed, therefore facilitating “widespread illegal and illicit activity.” They further alleged that raves are a threat to public health and a public nuisance.
Dix’s death was one of two from the 2015 rave, and not a totally uncommon tragedy. 49 people were sent to the emergency room due to drug-related causes at that event alone. According to the Los Angeles Times, there have been 29 confirmed drug-related deaths at raves organized by Los Angeles-area companies since 2006. Some experts have stated that MDMA can be especially dangerous at summer festivals given the hot climate and large crowds, because the drug can raise body temperatures up to 109 degrees, posing an increased threat of dehydration and organ failure.
Following Oki’s reversal decision last October, subsequent rulings have also gone in the family’s favor. In February this year, court documents revealed that the California Supreme Court denied Live Nation’s petition to have the reversal case reviewed. California’s high court also denied a request that Live Nation made at the same time for “depublication” of the appeals court’s opinion, which would have prevented the opinion from being used as precedent in future cases, had it gone through.
According to a Los Angeles Superior Court order, settlement negotiations were said to be ongoing as of April 8, 2021. On June 11, Mark and Pamela Dix filed a dismissal request “with prejudice,” which means they won’t be able to refile the same claim again if the request is approved.
Now, legal experts have responded to Pitchfork with opinions on that dismissal request. Stanford Center on the Legal Profession Co-Director Nora Freeman Engstrom stated, “Based on the recent filing, it appears that the parties have reached a consensual settlement. Settlements are common — and are, indeed, the most common outcome once civil cases are filed.” University of California, Berkeley legal professor Andrew Bradt added, “After looking at the documents, I’m confident that the case settled. And we may learn nothing more if the settlement included an NDA [a non-disclosure agreement].”