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Ja Rule gets himself removed from Fyre Festival class action

By | Published on Thursday 11 July 2019

Ja Rule has pretty much succeeded in having himself removed from one of the big class action lawsuits that came off the back of the disaster that was 2017’s Fyre Festival.

The rapper, real name Jeffrey Atkins, was very much presented as a co-founder of the luxury music event in the Bahamas, and its accompanying talent business. Until, that is, the festival fell apart just as it was getting started, when it became clear that organisers hadn’t put in place the infrastructure required for even a bargain basement party, let alone the luxurious celeb-packed millennial music extravaganza that had been promised.

A plethora of lawsuits followed the collapse of the Fyre Festival. The Fyre company and its boss man Billy McFarland were the main targets, but when that company collapsed and its chief was jailed for fraud, the lawyers needed other people to go after for damages.

Atkins was an obvious candidate and he was duly named as a defendant on a $100 million class action lawsuit being pursued by Fyre Festival ticket-buyers. The rapper then filed papers with the New York courts last September seeking to have the case against him dismissed. And, in the main, the judge overseeing the litigation has done just that.

Judge P Kevin Castel ruled that Atkins and Fyre’s CMO Grant Margolin – who was also listed as a defendant on the class action – couldn’t be held liable for the big Fyre fuck-up.

Castel concluded that, while Atkins and Margolin were in part responsible for building hype around the failed event – and may have been aware months before it was due to begin that key infrastructure wasn’t in place – there was no proof that they knew the promises they were making about the festival would never be met.

According to Law 360, the judge said: “The complaint states that defendants were aware for ‘months’ that there were no showers, electricity, bathrooms, medical services, or activities on the island. This, without more, does not plausibly allege that defendants, months before the event, intended not to hire or contract for such services”.

While the case against Margolin has been dismissed in its entirety, the judge has given the ticket-buyers involved in the lawsuit the opportunity to submit new papers in relation to one specific allegation against Atkins.

That relates to a tweet he posted the day before Fyre Festival was due to kick off, in which he wrote: “The stage is set!!! In less than 24 hours, the first annual Fyre Festival begins. #festivallife”. That statement, made when it was already clear that the festival site was simply not ready to stage the event, could have been relied upon by ticket buyers when making their final preparations to leave home for the Bahamas.

However, Castel stated, there was no evidence that any of the ticket-buyers involved the class action had actually relied on that tweet in that way.

But, he added, “plaintiffs may move to amend to set forth in a proposed pleading allegations of reasonable reliance and causation as to each plaintiff”. Which means they can resubmit claims against Atkins, but only in relation to that tweet, and they’ll need to show ticket-buyers made a decision to travel to the Bahamas for the failed event on the basis of that message.

Following the ruling, a legal rep for Atkins said that his client “is thankful for today’s ruling and for the court’s time and attention. Justice was done today”.

The class action will proceed with the defunct Fyre company, the incarcerated McFarland and various unspecified investors still listed as defendants.



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