Before Travis Scott was deposed on Monday, Astroworld plaintiffs’ attorneys filed an emergency motion last week seeking to obtain phone records regarding the festival from Scott, claiming that the rapper and his team had failed to provide those documents despite it being required by court order. Getting all of those records might not be possible, though, as according to a court transcript obtained by Rolling Stone, Scott’s attorney said days prior to the deposition that his phone fell off a boat nearly two years ago and is at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.
On September 11th — a week before Scott’s deposition — plaintiffs’ attorneys from the firms Arnold and Itkin, Roberts Markland and Lyons and Simmons filed an “emergency motion to compel production” of documents and electronic devices such as phones and text messages from Scott, his entity XX Global Inc. and employees including Cactus Jack general manager David Stromberg. The attorneys filed the motion days after deposing Stromberg on September 6th, according to the motion, after Stromberg said in his deposition that “he never turned his phone over to lawyers for Travis Scott for imaging.”
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“Mr. Stromberg’s testimony and colloquy of counsel on the record suggests that not a single message, WeChat conversation, photo, video or other message from Mr. Stromberg, Mr. Scott or anyone on his team’s phone has been searched for and reviewed for production,” the lawyers wrote in their motion.
The lawyers also claimed in the filing that Scott and XX Global had previously objected to produce those records, citing several different grounds including that the request was “seeking confidential and/or sensitive information,” and that it was “seeking the disclosure of documents that are unreasonably cumulative or duplicative of other of the requests.”
The plaintiffs’ attorneys either did not respond or declined to comment, citing the case’s gag order that largely prevents them from speaking publicly to the press about the case.
“Travis Scott and his team have nothing to hide and are cooperating with all ongoing civil legal proceedings,” Ted Anastasiou, a rep for Scott said, in a statement. “His actions during and after the festival demonstrate that he has done nothing wrong, as does the fact that he and his team were cleared following the investigation by the Houston Police Department.”
The attorneys wrote that other Astroworld defendants had also been difficult during the discovery process, citing behavior like not providing documents until the night before a deposition or rescheduling depositions at the last minute. Scott and his team, however, were particularly egregious, they claimed.
“As frustrating as the conduct of many of the defendants have been, they have at least produced some documents comprising text messages, photos, and videos retrieved from images of their clients’, employees’, and agents’ phones,” the attorneys wrote. “Travis Scott and his team stand apart as having not produced a single text, WeChat communication, video, or photo from their phones — not because they don’t exist — but because his attorneys chose not to image or search their phones the order to do so by the court.
“If not ordered to bring themselves into compliance immediately, Mr. Scott will be deposed without anyone knowing what was said between he and his team via these means of communication,” the motion added.
By Friday, both the plaintiff and defendants’ attorneys called in for a hearing regarding the emergency motion. According to the hearing’s transcript, Noah Wexler — one of the plaintiffs’ liaison counsel attorneys at Arnold and Itkin, told the court that they weren’t aware that the defendants hadn’t provided the messages until after Stromberg’s deposition.
Per the transcript, Scott’s attorney Steve Brody of O’Melveny & Myers said that Wexler sent him a draft of the emergency motion last week and filed the official motion five hours later before Brody could respond. Brody said Stromberg gave access to his phone for those records last Wednesday and they will be able to produce the relevant records by September 27th.
Regarding Scott’s phone, though, Brody said that it “fell off a boat in January of 2022 and landed somewhere at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico and is not able to be retrieved.”
Judge Kristen Hawkins, who is overseeing the case, seemed to question Scott’s team over its handling of the phone, according to the transcript.
“There does not seem to have been any action, from what I am hearing right now, taken on the part of
Mr. Scott’s legal team to either, A, secure and download anything from his phone immediately following an event in which 10 people died, or, B, trying to recover text messages from alternate sources when Mr. Scott would have the ability to go and get that information, possibly from the carrier, or from other sources,” she said.
Brody clarified that they couldn’t recover the messages directly from Apple, nor from the cell phone carrier and looked into both avenues. Still, he acknowledged the delay.
“Now, looking back, yeah, in an ideal world his phone would have been imaged on November 6th or November 7th or November 8th,” Brody acknowledged before Judge Hawkins interjected: “Or 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, any time until it fell into the ocean in January of 2022.”
“Exactly, your Honor,” Brody replied. “In an ideal situation that would have happened. It did not. And that’s the situation we’re facing right now, which is why we are hopeful that Mr. Stromberg’s agreement is going to remedy the situation.”
With the plaintiff’s lawyers unable to review the messages between Stromberg and Scott before the September 18th deposition, Scott will have two more days of deposition during the first week of October, according to the transcript.
Scott didn’t back up his phone on iCloud over “significant hacking concerns,” Brody said, so the contents of his phone “is not going to be retrievable,” but messages between Scott and Stromberg will be. While it’s unclear what will be missing, those messages on Stromberg’s phone, Brody said, would “show the vast majority, if not all, relevant texts with Mr. Scott related to this event.”
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