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Ja Rule says he shouldn’t be liable for Fyre Festival debacle, despite online brags

By | Published on Wednesday 12 September 2018

Fyre Festival

Ja Rule has told a New York court that him bigging up the Fyre Festival on social media and YouTube isn’t enough to hold him liable for the debacle that subsequently unfolded. Aggrieved festival-goers should therefore seek compensation from the defunct company behind the festival and its soon-to-be-jailed fraudster boss, he says.

Fyre Festival was originally billed as a joint venture between Ja Rule, real name Jeffrey Atkins, and supposed entrepreneur Billy McFarland. Both promised a luxury party experience in the Bahamas, but when festival-goers arrived on the island hosting the damn thing in April last year they found that organisers hadn’t put in place the infrastructure for even a very basic event.

The doomed event has resulted in a flurry of litigation from angry ticket-buyers, suppliers and investors, in addition to the criminal action taken against McFarland in relation to his fraudulent activities. Because of his association with the festival, and with him actually having some assets to go after, Atkins quickly found himself named as a defendant on some of those lawsuits.

That includes the $100 million class action working its way through the New York courts. According to Law 360, he has now asked said courts to remove him as a defendant on that particular case, arguing that his promotion of the festival online wasn’t sufficient to make him liable for the resulting shitstorm.

Atkins’ legal filing concedes that in late 2016 he declared on social media that the Fyre Festival would be the “biggest FOMO-inducing event of 2017”. In a subsequent YouTube video, meanwhile, he toasted the festival’s organisers and said: “Here’s to living like movie stars, partying like rock stars”.

However, such bold statements were not enough to make Atkins liable for the failings of the festival’s management, his legal filing argues. Not least because there is no evidence claimants in the class action even saw those social media plugs or were persuaded to buy tickets because of them. And there were plenty of other ‘influencers’ on the social networks busy talking up the event at the same time.

Atkins’ legal filing states: “Tellingly, not a single plaintiff claims to have seen, have been aware of, or have been influenced by Atkins’ statements. You cannot rely on what you do not know and therefore, even if each of the [complaint’s] alleged facts are true, plaintiffs could not have reasonably relied on the statements because they were unaware of them”.

If the courts do let Atkins off the hook – basically on the basis that he was just a celebrity front for an operation owned and run by McFarland – that will mean that the various lawsuits in relation to the failed event will be seeking compensation from a company and an individual with seemingly no cash to hand.