Jury orders Sony Music to pay $160 million over 2017 shooting at Cousin Stizz concert

A jury in Georgia has ordered Sony Music to pay $160 million in punitive damages following the fatal shooting of two attendees during a Cousin Stizz concert in 2017.

The concert at the Masquerade nightclub in Atlanta’s Underground development on November 12, 2017, saw a gunman open fire, injuring four people.

Giovan Diaz and Ewell Ynoa, who were 22 and 21 at the time, died from “catastrophic injuries,” according to separate complaints filed by the victims’ estates in 2018.

The shooting took place before Stephen Goss, known professionally as Cousin Stizz, hit the stage.

Sony Music Holdings, the Masquerade night club and its CEO Brian McNamara, as well as other entities involved in the promotion, management and security of the concert “failed to ensure that the premises and concert were safe for guests at the venue,” the complaints read.

Despite the recent fatal mass shooting events in nightclubs, schools and other establishments, the defendants failed to implement critical measures and security safeguards needed to ensure the safety of Cousin Stizz concertgoers, Diaz and Ynoa’s legal teams argued.

Both victims suffered “fright, shock, mental distress, and catastrophic injuries,” resulting in their deaths, according to the complaints.

Sony Music Holdings, being the promoter, planner, supervisor and manager of the concert, failed to put security measures in place and carry out reasonable inspections of the concert venue, according to the court filings.

On December 15, 2022, a jury in Georgia’s Dekalb County ruled in favor of the victims’ families.

A Sony Music spokesperson declined to comment when contacted by MBW.

Atlanta lawyer Parker Miller of Beasley Allen, who served as lead trial counsel in the case, said: “Obviously, these types of cases do not come around often. This was a mass shooting in a crowded concert. There were multiple deaths, and [Diaz] and [Ynoa] suffered significantly before losing their fight for life, as eyewitnesses outlined.”

“The trial was incredibly emotional because of what these families, and the world, lost. One of these men had been told he would be a father just a few hours before the shooting happened. Combine that with the fact the concert endangered everyone, and this Defendant refused to participate in the legal process, and you get the type of verdict we saw here,” added Miller.

Tiffany M. Simmons, managing partner of Simmons Law in Atlanta, Georgia, who also served on the clients’ team, said, “There is no excuse for how poorly secured this production was.”

“These men had over a hundred years of life expectancy left between them. They had their entire music careers before them. We are humbled by the jury’s decision, and we hope this sends a message that this type of conduct will not be tolerated,” Simmons added.

Music Business Worldwide

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