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Second class action filed over Ja Rule’s Fyre Festival

By | Published on Wednesday 3 May 2017


The Ja Rule-backed Fyre Festival may have been a traumatic experience for those who attended, but it’s proving to be the most entertaining of events for everyone else. And it could all prove pretty lucrative for the lawyers too, as a second class action in relation to the aborted island extravaganza was filed yesterday.

As previously reported, the Fyre Festival, due to take place on the island of Great Exuma in the Bahamas, was promoted as a luxury experience with tickets priced at up to $12,000.

The brainchild of Ja Rule and computer programmer Billy McFarland, and promoted by an assortment of influencers on the social networks, Fyre was an ambitious endeavour that crashed spectacularly. As soon as festival-goers started arriving, it became clear organisers hadn’t managed to build the required infrastructure for a basic music festival, let alone the luxury experience that had been sold to ticket-buyers.

The whole thing quickly became a PR disaster as early arrivals to the festival island started posting a steady stream of photos of the unfolding shambles to the same social networks that had been so deftly employed to promote the event. Meanwhile others stuck on aeroplanes that had been chartered by Fyre Media to get festival-goers to Great Exuma, but which were going nowhere, posted footage of airline staff announcing that the party was off.

Press statements were quickly issued apologising profusely for the debacle but promising that Fyre Festival 2018 would deliver the goods, while the tourist board for the Bahamas hit out at the negative portrayal of Great Exuma as some sort of remote hell hole surrounded by shark infested waters.

Celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos was the first to chase the metaphorical ambulance seen speeding away from Great Exuma, quickly filing a lawsuit on behalf of one festival-goer seeking $5 million in damages for “alleged fraud, breach of contract, breach of covenant of good faith and negligent misrepresentation”. It’s a class action that Geragos reckons could ultimately involve over 150 people and seek a minimum of $100 million in damages.

A second class action was filed in relation to the event in the LA County Superior Court yesterday, with John Girardi representing Chelsea Chinery, Shannon McAuliffe and Desiree Flores. This case accuses the Fyre Festival of breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation and fraud, and hits out at the way the event was marketed in addition to the shitstorm that occurred once festival-goers arrived on site.

Girardi’s lawsuit alleges that, not only did so called social media influencers make promises about the Fyre Festival that organisers were in no position to deliver on, but they didn’t declare that they were being paid to big up the event, breaching FTC rules. Says the legal papers, according to The Hollywood Reporter, “social media ‘influencers’ made no attempt to disclose to consumers that they were being compensated for promoting the Fyre Festival”.

Anyone who bought tickets to the Fyre Festival is invited to join Girardi’s class action, with the class being split into three groups: those who spent money on tickets but didn’t actually depart for the festival before it crashed and burned; those who got stuck on aeroplanes destined for the event; and those who actually spent some time on Great Exuma.

Quite how lucrative all this litigation turns out to be presumably depends on whether the courts allow plaintiffs to go after Ja Rule and Billy McFarlane personally, in addition to the Fyre Media company which you have to think is unlikely to survive the fall out of the aborted event. Both class actions currently name the rapper and the computer programmer as co-defendants.