Prominent Los Angeles trial lawyer Daniel Petrocelli sent an electronic letter late last Wednesday to lawyers for the plaintiffs in the Astroworld Festival tragedy announcing that he now represents rapper Travis Scott and offering to pay the funeral costs of those who died at the Nov. 5 concert in Houston.
“Your client’s offer is declined,” Corpus Christi attorney Bob Hilliard, who represents the family of 9-year-old Ezra Blount, who died at the concert, said in an email response to Petrocelli.
The Thanksgiving Eve email exchange answered the question of who Scott, who was born Jacques Bermon Webster II, would select as his lead lawyer to defend him against more than 120 civil wrongful death, personal injury and premises liability lawsuits filed in the three weeks since the Astroworld event.
Petrocelli, who is head of litigation for the global corporate law firm O’Melveny & Myers, is known for representing high-profile clients.
In 2002, Dallas rocker Don Henley hired Petrocelli to successfully fend off wrongful firing charges levied by Eagles’ guitarist Don Felder. Two years later, Petrocelli defended Enron CFO Jeff Skilling against criminal fraud and insider trading charges. Skilling was convicted. And in 2018, Petrocelli served as the lead trial lawyer for Dallas-based AT&T and Time Warner in the federal government’s antitrust lawsuit seeking stop their merger. AT&T won.
Petrocelli burst into the national spotlight in 1997 when he represented the father of Ron Goldman suing O.J. Simpson for his son’s wrongful death. A jury awarded his client $8.5 million.
“Dan is an absolutely superb, elite trial lawyer,” said Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner Rob Walters, who was co-counsel with Petrocelli in the AT&T litigation. “Dan has an uncanny ability of establishing the moral high ground, which resonates well with factfinders.”
“Dan and Neal will be a formidable team in court in this litigation,” said Walters, referring to Susman Godfrey partner Neal Manne, who has been hired by Astroworld festival promotor Live Nation.
Well, when you’ve got a couple of billion dollars’ worth of lawsuits filed against you, you’re probably not going to skimp on the legal defense. It will be very interesting to see how Petrocelli directs the defense, which also includes criminal defense attorney Kent Schaffer, whom you may know as one of the Ken Paxton special prosecutors. Neal Manne, the Live Nation lawyer, was the lead on the misdemeanor bail lawsuit against Harris County. Like I said, heavy hitters.