Updated at the bottom with county leader Mark Ridley-Thomas saying the settlement between Rodriguez's family and the Coliseum should seal the deal for the end of raves at the venue. First posted at 1:05 p.m. Thursday.
The 15-year-old girl whose family sued and settled with the L.A. Coliseum and the promoter of Electric Daisy Carnival after she died of an ecstasy overdose following her attendance of the rave actually snuck into the party and indeed took a “pill” willfully, LA Weekly has learned.
Those facts about Sasha Rodriguez, we were told, led to the settlement and softened the case for a $5 million suit against the parties following the controversial, 2010 event that drew more than 140,000 over two days and sparked a major scandal at the venue.
Her family's attorney, Steven Archer, tells us that those facts were not enough to stop what he described as generous settlement:
It is true that because of the testimony as to Sasha, it compromised the liability analysis and lead to the settlement.
He argued that if the defendants had a stronger case they wouldn't have settled for one penny, and he said that they appeared to be sweating and dragging their feet over his requests for financial documents related to security and medical services for raves dating back five years at the publicly run L.A. Coliseum.
It's “the reason they paid,” Archer said.
In any case, from the defendants' side, which depicts the lawsuit as without merit, we learned this:
-Rodriguez sneaked into the event. She did not pay, she was not carded, and she was not patted down. Archer confirmed this, but argued that this fact did not release the venue and the promoter from liability for security and from ensuring that young kids don't sneak in:
My argument to that is you're supposed to have security and keep people out who don't have tickets. It doesn't do away with the issue.
The party was marred by chaotic moments, including inside-the-venue gatecrashing, which was caught on video. Those moments, along with Rodriguez's overdose death, prompted some to question why the events were being held on public property.
The festival had a 16-and-older policy, but we found that even after an 18-and-older requirement was imposed on the grounds, ID checks were not always performed following controversy over Rodriguez's death that ultimately shut raves out of the Coliseum and its sister venue, the Sports Arena.
Archer says that of two underage girls deposed for the case, one of them sneaked in and the other had a ticket, was carded and was patted down.
-Rodriguez took a “pill.” Archer confirms that at least one of the deposed girls said she had heard this, but he said she did not witness it.
-Rodriguez had admitted to using ecstasy in the past. Archer denies this.
-Rodriguez was at the party with an ex-convict named Menace. Archer said this is true, but that Menace was one of several people she was with. He was the one who gave her and her friends a ride to the event, the attorney said.
-The promoter settled for $175,000, paid via lawsuit insurance, with an additional $15,000 covering the settlement for former Coliseum manager Todd DeStefano, also named in the suit. Archer confirmed those settlement amounts. It's not clear how much the Coliseum itself paid, if anything, to be included in the settlement.
Archer says that one of the main reasons the family decided to settle was that …
… Sasha's mom really can't take much more of the litigation and sit through hours of questions about what her daughter did and didn't do.
[Update at 12:28 p.m. Friday]: L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who also happens to sit on the L.A. Coliseum Commission, sent the Weekly this statement:
The only thing $190,000 settles is which side had better lawyers. Unfortunately, this settlement compounds the tragic death of Sasha Rodriguez. I would hope USC would never allow another rave in the Coliseum.
(The commission is working on a deal that would hand over day-to-day management and booking of the venue to USC).
Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.