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Fyre Festival ticketholders hope to get Ja Rule back as a defendant on their $100 million lawsuit

By | Published on Monday 14 October 2019

Fyre Festival

Lawyers working for litigious Fyre Festival ticketholders are having another go at getting Ja Rule listed as a defendant on a $100 million lawsuit seeking damages for those who attended the failed festival in the Bahamas.

The rapper, real name Jeffrey Atkins, was very much presented as a co-founder of the luxury music event until it fell apart just as ticketholders started to arrive. When the Fyre company collapsed and its boss Billy McFarland was jailed for fraud, those who went legal in relation to the festival needed to find other people to sue who might actually have some money with which to pay damages. Atkins was an obvious candidate.

But, back in July, the judge overseeing this particular $100 million class action lawsuit involving people who had bought tickets to the Fyre Festival agreed to remove Atkins as a defendant. The judge concluded that, while the rapper helped build the hype in the run up to Fyre, and he may have been aware that behind the scenes things were somewhat chaotic, there was no evidence that he definitely knew promises he was making on social media would and could never be honoured by McFarland and his team.

However, the day before the Fyre Festival was due to kick off Atkins tweeted: “The stage is set!!! In less than 24 hours, the first annual Fyre Festival begins. #festivallife”. Surely, the plaintiffs argued, he would have known when he sent that message that the island in the Bahamas hired by McFarland was simply not ready to receive any festival-goers.

That tweet was included in the original legal filing, but back in July the judge said that there was no evidence anyone who headed out to the Fyre Festival island did so having seen that particular message. Hence the amended complaint filed last week, in which the lawyer leading on the case told the court that he has now identified a number of people who did specifically fly out to the Bahamas having seen Atkins’ Twitter declaration that – despite any rumours already circulating – the party was definitely on.

According to Law360, the amended complaint – which was apparently prepared shortly after the original ruling back in July, but was only properly filed last week due to an admin error – also references the two Fyre Festival documentaries that came out earlier this year. It reckons that those docs – which Atkins has either definitely seen or definitely not seen – “provide additional new information showing that Atkins knew full well the festival was destined for failure even as he continued to promote it”.

Back in July, as well as removing Atkins as a defendant, the judge also removed Fyre Festival’s Chief Marketing Officer Grant Margolin from the lawsuit. And while the plaintiffs were given the option to submit an amended complaint in regards to Atkins, that option was not provided in relation to Margolin. Which has resulted in a side dispute, after the one time CMO noticed he was still listed as a defendant on the amended complaint.

The lawyer representing the ticketholders has now asked that the judge allow him to put Margolin back onto the lawsuit too, despite the July ruling. This is partly based on a claim that the marketing man lied about being broke and having to represent himself in court, because he is known to be getting legal advice. But Margolin counters that the lawyer providing that advice is doing a favour to a friend of his parents, and that he has never hidden the fact that he has that limited legal support.

We now await to see how the judge responds to this bid to get both Atkins and Margolin back on the big Fyre Festival lawsuit.