The Fyre Festival debacle has now spawned at least seven lawsuits against the Bahamas event’s co-founders, Ja Rule and Billy McFarland. The latest, obtained by Pitchfork, is a class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday in Manhattan federal court on behalf of two dissatisfied attendees, Sean Daly and Edward Ivey. Along with the familiar breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation claims, the complaint also alleges unjust enrichment and violation of New York state business law. Meanwhile, the lawsuit claims Fyre Festival organizers kept asking for attendees for money even after it became clear the festival wouldn’t happen, offering VIP upgrades and encouraging attendees to put money into their cashless “Fyre Band” payment systems. They also allegedly told the performers (including Migos, Major Lazer, Blink-182, and more) that the festival was canceled long before attendees were informed.
The lawsuit asserts:
When Defendants [McFarland, Ja Rule, and Fyre Media] became aware before the start of the festival that it would not actually happen, they notified the scheduled performers and certain festival employees not to fly out for the event. However, Defendants did not notify Plaintiffs [Daly and Ivey] or the thousands of festival-goers who showed up at the event that it was canceled. Instead, Defendants were actively trying to sell upgraded VIP tickets to existing ticket holders.
The complaint succinctly summarizes its claims in paragraphs 40 and 41, which you can read below.
40. Defendants represented, among other things, that (1) the Fyre Festival would take place on a private island; (2) the island was previously owned by infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar; (3) food and beverages would be provided, including VIP food packages and upgrades; (4) the living quarters would be fully furnished permanent structures; and (5) the event would be attended by celebrities, and that top-level musical talent would be performing.
41. All of the representations made by Defendants alleged in paragraph 40 proved to be completely false.
This latest legal action follows at least six other lawsuits against the Fyre Festival team. The first was a $100 million fraud suit filed in California federal court by celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos. Ben Meiselas, an attorney at Geragos’ law firm, told Pitchfork that while about 300 ticket buyers have signed up for the suit, that probably represents more than 1,000 people, because of the way tickets were sold. He said it remained unclear how many people bought tickets overall or how many attendees arrived on the island.
When asked about the extent of Ja Rule’s role in the Fyre organization, Meiselas said, “Not to be a hater on Ja Rule, I don’t think the name itself in a contemporary sense carries a great deal of weight. He leveraged his connections [and] basically promoted this as a rebirth of his career. Venture capitalists really bought in and liked that American comeback story, which is how it was being pitched.”
On Sunday, Geragos’ firm filed documents claiming Fyre Festival was “merely a front for a massive financial fraud akin to a Ponzi scheme.” A number of unidentified investors in Fyre Media were also added as defendants. The company was allegedly being valued at between $90 million and $105 million, Bloomberg reports. Meiselas told Pitchfork that many of Fyre Media’s investors were affiliated with major banks, venture capital firms, and corporations.
“It kinds of reminds me of a politician, I won’t name who, who says, ‘It’s not about this,’ and then it’s always about that,” Meiselas told Pitchfork. “The moment they tweeted, ‘This is not a scam’—I think it was Ja Rule who tweeted it—then you go, OK, so why was it you were valuing a company that had no assets at all at $90 million?”
Representatives for the parties their case against Fyre Festival didn’t immediately respond to Pitchfork’s requests for comment.
Find all of Pitchfork’s Fyre coverage here, and read “Searching for Answers in Fyre Festival’s Viral Disaster” over on the Pitch.
Find the full text of the latest lawsuit below.
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