A lawyer representing the family of a 15-year-old girl who died from an ecstasy overdose following a summer rave at a publicly run venue in L.A. told the Weekly the parents expect to sue the promoter, Insomniac Events, along with the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission.
“When we do file the lawsuit it will be against the commission and the promoter,” said Steven D. Archer of the Beverly Hills law firm Kiesel, Boucher & Larson.
He said there have been settlement negotiations with the promoter and the commission, but at this point a suit will probably move forward, possibly in spring.
Last month the parents of Sasha Rodriguez filed a $5 million claim against the commission after she got into June's 16-and-older Electric Daisy Carnival and subsequently died of an MDMA overdose.
“She's a child,” Archer said. “They're trading the safety of our children for the dollars they get for allowing these things to happen on public.”
The claim stated that the four-times-a-year megaraves at the Coliseum and Sports Arena produced about 28 percent of the annual revenue seen at the venues, which are both controlled by the public commission.
Archer noted the Weekly's report this week that even after the commission, in response to Rodriguez's death, mandated a strict 18-and-up policy with electronic ID scanning required for all entrants, the system broke down at Friday's Together As One Rave at the Sports Arena, and people got in without having their ages verified.
That party was co-promoted by Insomniac Events.
“The point is they still weren't able to grant that nobody under 18 got in or that there wasn't rampant illicit drug sales and consumption,” Archer said.
The legal claim, a precursor to the likely suits, states that the commission had fair warning about the consistent dangers the parties pose to young people.
The Weekly reported that the 45,600-attendance New Year's party, even after new precautions mandated by the commission that included more medical personnel and security, saw 17 hospitalizations versus 18 last year.
Archer vowed to use the discovery process — a tool plaintiffs have to obtain hard-to-get documents and information — to find out exactly how many deaths and hospitalizations have happened at Coliseum and Sports Arena raves in the 12 years they've been taking place there.
The Weekly reported that the death rate connected to raves at the venues has been about one a year in the last five years, with more than 300 medical emergencies in 2010 alone.
Interestingly, Archer said the family was willing to continue settlement negotiations with the commission but contends that officials dropped the ball: Private counsel working on the case was let go and a City Attorney's office lawyer couldn't promise that an extension for negotiations would be granted before a six-month deadline to file the claim loomed in December.
“We wanted to keep this low-key,” he said. “We didn't want this necessarily to be a public lightening rod. But I had to file because the clock is running.”
The Weekly, meanwhile, asked the attorney about rumors concerning Rodriguez's alleged partying and lifestyle. He said her parents are good, decent people who specifically forbade her to attend the rave. She had asked to go to an event at the L.A. County Fairgrounds that June weekend, and permission was granted, he said.
“Sasha was 15,” Archer said. “Fifteen-year-old children often act irresponsibly. We were all there at one point. That's why we as parents, government and promoters have a responsibility to protect children.
“If Sasha was 23 we wouldn't be here.”
“I want to invite the City Attorney, commission and promoter to see if we can make some progress in jointly solving this.”