Disastrous Fyre Festival Hit With $100M Lawsuit
The Bahamas music festival was advertised as a two-weekend luxury getaway with high-end food and accommodations.
The fallout from the disastrous Fyre Festival continued Sunday when attorney Mark Geragos (Chris Brown, Michael Jackson) filed a proposed $100 million class-action lawsuit against organizers on behalf of client Daniel Jung. The suit accuses organizers of fraud, citing the fest's "lack of adequate food, water, shelter, and medical care created a dangerous and panicked situation among attendees — suddenly finding themselves stranded on a remote island without basic provisions."
The event — which was advertised as a two-weekend luxury getaway on a private Caribbean island with high-end food and accommodations, attendance by supermodel such as Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski and sets from G.O.O.D. Music's Tyga, Desiigner and Pusha T, as well as Blink-182, Disclosure, Major Lazer and more — fell into chaos Thursday as early arrivers realized that the festival grounds were not as advertised.
"Attendees’ efforts to escape the unfolding disaster were hamstrung by their reliance upon Defendants for transportation, as well as by the fact that Defendants promoted the festival as a 'cashless' event — Defendants instructed attendees to upload funds to a wristband for use at the festival rather than bringing any cash," reads the suit. "As such, Attendees were unable to purchase basic transportation on local taxis or busses, which accept only cash. As a result of Defendants’ roadblocks to escape, at least one attendee suffered a medical emergency and lost consciousness after being locked inside a nearby building with other concert-goers waiting to be airlifted from the island."
The suit filed by Jung on behalf of himself and all other festival attendees, claimed that the festival — promoted by rapper Ja Rule and businessman Billy McFarland — was more like The Hunger Games or Lord of the Flies than Coachella.” Upon arrival, attendees found an unfinished festival site, which officials put on lockdown over the weekend because, according to the island's tourism ministry, Rule (born Jeffrey Atkins) and McFarland had allegedly failed to pay customs duty taxes on items imported to the island for the weekend.
In a statement released Sunday by Geragos, the lawyer claimed that Fyre organizers "need to step up and make this right but unfortunately, the opposite has occurred." Though Rule has been adamant that he and McFarland intended to provide an upscale experience for ticket buyers who spent anywhere from $4,000 to $100,000 for tickets, Geragos took shots at them, claiming Fyre was "nothing more than a get-rich-quick scam from the very beginning," intended to "fleece attendees for hundreds of millions of dollars by inducing them to fly to a remote island without food, shelter or water—and without regard to what might happen to them after that.”
And while the event was promoted as being on a "private" island once owned by drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, the suit claims that the island isn't private — there's a "Sandals" resort down the road from the site — and that Escobar never owned the land. The suit was filed in the Central District of California and it asserts claims of fraud, breach of contract, breach of covenant of good faith, and negligent misrepresentation. Ja Rule and McFarland, as well as the Delaware-based Fyre Media are named as defendants. Geragos could not be reached for comment at press time.
Most distressingly, the suit alleges that Rule and McFarland began "personally reaching out to performers and celebrities in advance of the festival and warned them not to attend — acknowledging the fact that the festival was outrageously underequipped and potentially dangerous for anyone in attendance."
Rule and McFarland released a statement to Billboard on Friday promising full refunds and free VIP passes for next year's event to those impacted.
Billy McFarland and Ja Rule started a partnership over a mutual interest in technology, the ocean, and rap music. This unique combination of interests led them to the idea that, through their combined passions, they could create a new type of music festival and experience on a remote island.
They simply weren’t ready for what happened next, or how big this thing would get. They started by making a website and launching a viral campaign. Ja helped book talent, and they had hundreds of local Bahamians join in the effort. Suddenly, they found themselves transforming a small island and trying to build a festival. Thousands of people wanted to come. They were excited, but then the roadblocks started popping up.
As amazing as the islands are, the infrastructure for a festival of this magnitude needed to be built from the ground up. So, we decided to literally attempt to build a city. We set up water and waste management, brought an ambulance from New York, and chartered 737 planes to shuttle our guests via 12 flights a day from Miami. We thought we were ready, but then everyone arrived.
The team was overwhelmed. The airport was jam packed. The buses couldn’t handle the load. And the wind from rough weather took down half of the tents on the morning our guests were scheduled to arrive. This is an unacceptable guest experience and the Fyre team takes full responsibility for the issues that occurred.
Click here to read the full statement.
This story was originally posted on Billboard.