Rap Star, Connecticut Theater Sued For Deadly Shooting

Law360
Joyce Hanson
May 24, 2017

Law360, New York—Famed “battle” rapper Meek Mill and a Connecticut theater on Tuesday were slapped with a lawsuit in Waterbury Superior Court over a fatal shooting after a Dec. 30 concert, with one of the victims’ mothers accusing them of failing to protect audience members from violence that is known to break out at the rapper’s shows.

Philadelphia-based Meek Mill, his agents and the Oakdale Music Theatre Co. in Wallingford, Connecticut, are being sued over a fight that arose as the rapper — who has a history of public feuds and gun violence — exited the venue and a concertgoer discharged a firearm in the parking lot, killing 31-year-old Travis Ward and 20-year-old Jaquan Graves, both of New Haven, and seriously wounding 25-year-old Nathan Mitchell of Hartford. No arrests have been made for the shooting.

“The defendants had a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect concertgoers, including Travis Ward, from dangers which might reasonably be anticipated to arise from conditions of the premises and activities taking place on the premises,” according to the complaint filed by Ward’s mother, Jacqueline D. Bond, and Mitchell. “The plaintiff's decedent's fatal injuries were proximately caused by the negligence and carelessness of the defendant, Oakdale Music Theatre.”

The lawsuit accuses Meek Mill, whose real name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, and the theater with misconduct and negligence for failing to hire adequate security guards and allowing “thugs” to remain on the theater’s premises, “after exhibiting disorderly, disruptive, argumentative, angry and agitated behavior toward patrons.”

In addition, the suit alleged, Meek Mill and Oakdale were negligent in failing to deploy “universally recognized” security measures, considering the rapper’s history of violent and disorderly conduct, including shootings at his prior performances in Wilmington, Delaware, and Danbury, Connecticut.

Bond's, Joel T. Faxon of Faxon Law Group LLC, said in a statement that Mill’s lyrics incite violence and glorify the use of deadly weapons.

“With song titles like ‘Body Count’ and ‘Ooh Kill ‘Em,’ that praise indiscriminate killing and mayhem, the potential for tragic incidents like this should have been properly anticipated and planned for by Meek Mill, his concert promoters and the Oakdale Theatre,” Faxon said.

The suit does not state the amount of damages sought.

Representatives for Meek Mill and Oakdale Musical Theatre Co. did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

Bond is represented by Joel T. Faxon of Faxon Law Group LLC.

Counsel information for Meek Mill and Oakdale Musical Theatre Co. was not immediately available on Wednesday.

The case is Jacqueline D. Bond, administratrix of the estate of Travis Ward, and Nathan Mitchell v. Oakdale Musical Theatre Co., Live Nation Worldwide Inc., Michael J. Willcox aka Big Mike the Ruler, The Big Boy Game LLC, Roc Nation LLC and Robert Rihmeek Williams aka Meek Mill, in the Superior Court in the State of Connecticut, Waterbury.

The case number was not immediately available on Wednesday.

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