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.