Insomniac Sued for Letting Overdose Victim Die: “Someone Has Died Every Year” at Insomniac Events Since 2006

Last year, I sued Insomniac, the producer of Electronic Daisy Carnival — a massive, 100,000+ attendee music festival held in the desert outside of Las Vegas, NV — over their policy of not allowing OTC medication into their event and requiring those with prescription medication to “consult” with a “safety officer” before they would be allowed in.  That case was settled before appeal after being dismissed on a technicality.

A large part of Insomniac’s argument in that case before settlement was that there was no need for attendees to bring in their own OTC medicines because they provide world-class medical services including all the medicine anyone could possibly need.  But, the reality is this: there are only 3 medical tents, and the Las Vegas Motor Speedway where the event is held is massive:


According to Google, the longest interior dimension is over 3,000 feet, or about 6/10ths of a mile (1 km).  To walk around the circumference of the venue would be about 1.5 miles (2 km).  With 3 medical tents, you’re looking at 1 tent every 1,000 or so feet.

At the 2016 festival, a young man named Nicholas Austin Tom succumbed to the heat in combination with MDMA intoxication.  MDMA (ecstasy, molly) is a common, relatively safe party drug with two main caveats: dehydration and hyperthermia (fever).  When you’re in a 110°F (43°C) desert, dancing and sweating, and do not consume water, you are already tempting fate with dehydration and hyperthermia, but add large doses of MDMA to that and the results can be deadly.

Of course, dehydration and hyperthermia are easy to treat in a medical setting: IV fluids and ice packs can save a life.  So, according to Mr. Tom’s attorneys, when he started seizing that evening, festival goers attempted to carry him to a medical tent — but it took them half an hour to find one.  Futher, when they arrived, there was no medical staff there, and by the time they returned, he was dead.

Did Insomniac just not know that they needed more medical staff?  From the complaint:

Beginning in 2006, someone has died every year at a rave put on by Defendants INSOMNIAC and [current parent company] LIVE NATION.

In case that seems like an exaggeration, they provided a list:

  • Joshua Johnson, 18 (Nocturnal Wonderland, 2006)
  • Michelle Lee, 21 (Monster Massive, 2007)
  • William On, 23 (Together as One, 2008)
  • Jesse Morales, 22 (EDC Dallas, 2010)
  • Sasha Rodriguez, 15 (EDC L.A., 2010)
  • Andrew Graf, 19 (EDC Dallas, 2011)
  • Kyle Haigis, 22 (EDC Dallas, 2011)
  • Emily McCaughan, 22 (EDC Vegas, 2012)
  • Arrel Cochon, 22 (Nocturnal Wonderland, 2013)
  • Anthony Anaya, 25 (EDC Vegas, 2014)
  • Brian Brockette, 20 (Electric Forest, 2014)
  • John Hoang Dinh Vo, 22 (Beyond Wonderland, 2015)

In fairness, it seems that they didn’t find a death for 2009, so perhaps for that year, they get a pass.

The bottom line: trying to take away people’s drugs at the gate doesn’t work.  Drugs will always be smuggled into music events.  What does work is providing adequate water and medical services.  Based on the list above, it would seem that Insomniac must know that they have a problem.  I just can’t fathom how Insomniac CEO Pasquale Rotella does not feel disgusted with himself for letting this happen.  (Feel free to let him know how you feel on Twitter.)

Tom v. Insomniac – Complaint (Los Angeles Superior Court, BC 665696) (.pdf)

* Provided with an F.U. to the Los Angeles Superior Court for charging me ~$15 just to retrieve that document, and to the media for reporting on the story but being too cheap or lazy to actually post the source document.  Public records should be free.

6 thoughts on “Insomniac Sued for Letting Overdose Victim Die: “Someone Has Died Every Year” at Insomniac Events Since 2006

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  1. How is holding an event for 100,000 people in a desert at 100+ temperatures even legally defensible, especially in light of the fact that one person dies at nearly every event? That’s far above the death toll for similar events held in less dangerous environmental conditions. Who the heck issues permits for such an event with that track record?

    Fault has to be shared by all illegal-drug-imbibing attendees as well. That makes the Tom lawsuit moot, in my opinion. The knucklehead took illegal drugs, and must pay the consequences for his own bad decisions. I don’t see how any third party is morally or legally required to rescue him.

      1. I didn’t say the show promoter wasn’t liable. I said the illegal drug users was equally liable. The liabilties cancel.

        If someone had smuggled a gun into the concert and then accidentally shot themselves, wouldn’t she have equal liability in her own injury or death?

        1. I feel like you make up rules of law as you go along. 🙂

          Let’s say Person A has an injury that is worth $1,000,000. Let’s say a jury determines that Person B’s negligence was the cause of it, but that Person A equally as negligent as Person B in the causation of the injury. In most states, the liabilities do not “cancel.” Person B owes Person A $500,000. This concept is called comparative negligence, if you’re interested in researching.

          1. You jumped to a conclusion again. I didn’t say the promoter wouldn’t get any award. I said that the liabilities were equal. Obviously when you’re determining an award, you aportion it by percentage of liability. Only if the defending party had no liability would there be no award. I’ve already acknowledged that the promoter has liability. The question is how much. My argument is that the drug users liability is equal to the promoter’s, which is what I meant by “cancel”. That’s a mathematical concept, if you’re interested in researching. 🙂

          2. You said “the liabilities cancel.” Words have meaning, and “cancel” doesn’t mean “equal.”

            Please, if you’re just looking to argue, take that to Reddit. They love that there.

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