Fyre fi­asco

Suit claims Ja Rule’s mu­sic fes­ti­val was more ‘Hunger Games’ than Coachella

Cape Breton Post - - Business Business -

Lit­i­ga­tion is pil­ing up like bon­fire kin­dling against or­ga­niz­ers of the Fyre Fes­ti­val that flamed out in a fi­asco.

An­gry par­tic­i­pants had lashed out on so­cial me­dia with the hash­tag #fyre­fraud as the mu­sic fes­ti­val fell apart on an is­land in the Ba­hamas in April and fraud is the first claim in a $100 mil­lion clas­s­ac­tion suit.

The suit amended ear­lier this month in fed­eral court on be­half of a Los An­ge­les man said the events planned over two week­ends were “noth­ing more than a get-rich-quick scam” akin to a Ponzi scheme that put the lives - and small for­tunes - of thou­sands of par­tic­i­pants in jeop­ardy.

“The fes­ti­val’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 - that was closer to ‘The Hunger Games’ or ‘Lord of the Flies’ than Coachella,” ac­cord­ing to the suit filed by at­tor­ney Mark Ger­a­gos.

The law­suit is one of sev­eral filed in the wake of the dis­as­ter that un­folded on the is­land of Ex­uma late last month when in­ad­e­quate plan­ning and fa­cil­i­ties led per­form­ers to bow out and or­ga­niz­ers to can­cel the show once billed as the “the cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ence of the decade.”

In the amended com­plaint filed in U.S. District Court, Ger­a­gos said 300 peo­ple had con­tacted his of­fices af­ter the ini­tial suit was filed last month against or­ga­niz­ers Billy McFar­land, rap­per Ja Rule, whose real name is Jef­frey Atkins, and Fyre Me­dia Inc. Among dozens of un­named de­fen­dants are deep-pock­eted in­vestors who pro­vided seed money for the event.

The event pro­moted on so­cial me­dia by Ken­dall Jen­ner, Bella Ha­did, Emily Rata­jkowski and other mod­els and celebri­ties tar­geted well-heeled Mil­len­ni­als with ticket pack­ages rang­ing from $1,200 to over $100,000 and promis­ing five-star din­ing and lux­ury ac­com­mo­da­tions. Head­lin­ers in­cluded rock­ers Blink-182, hip-hop act Mi­gos and the elec­tronic mu­sic trio Ma­jor Lazer.

In­stead of putting the trop­i­cal is­land on the map as the next big des­ti­na­tion mu­sic ex­pe­ri­ence, Fyre Fes­ti­val only suc­ceeded in spark­ing out­rage.

Par­tic­i­pants ar­rived to find a venue partly un­der con­struc­tion, in­sipid food and soggy beds un­der leak­ing tents. One photo in­cluded in the suit showed a Sty­ro­foam con­tainer with bread, two pieces of pack­aged cheese, let­tuce and sliced tomato.

Law­suits filed in New York and Mi­ami fed­eral courts made sim­i­lar claims af­ter Ger­a­gos filed the Los An­ge­les case.

At­tor­ney Stacey Rich­man, who rep­re­sents Ja Rule, said he wouldn’t par­tic­i­pate in any­thing fraud­u­lent.

Af­ter the event was can­celled, the rap­per had posted an apol­ogy on­line say­ing he was heart­bro­ken, but that it was not a scam and it was not his fault.

Ef­forts to reach McFar­land, Fyre Me­dia or at­tor­neys who have re­sponded to law­suits on their be­half were un­suc­cess­ful.

McFar­land pre­vi­ously promised full re­funds and of­fered his apol­ogy on the fes­ti­val’s web­site. He also said he would of­fer free VIP passes to next year’s fes­ti­val.

AP PHOTO

This photo pro­vided by Jake Strang shows mat­tress and tents set up for at­ten­dees of the Fyre Fes­ti­val, Fri­day, April 28, 2017, in the Ex­uma is­lands, Ba­hamas. Lit­i­ga­tion is pil­ing up against or­ga­niz­ers of the Fyre Fes­ti­val that flamed out in a fi­asco in the Ba­hamas in April. Law­suits have been filed in fed­eral courts in Los An­ge­les, New York and Mi­ami in the past month as well as sev­eral state courts.

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