Recently, both Netflix and Hulu released documentaries on the hellish Fyre Festival. To refresh your recollection, that was the music festival in the Bahamas back in the Spring of 2017 for the beautiful people and Instagram influencers.
Everything that was supposed to go down never did for the people that bought $12,000 VIP tickets for an all-inclusive, luxury music festival. Guests were promised deluxe accommodations, but got glorified tents, some not even pitched. There were few outhouses, and even less water. Bands bailed out. Transportation was subpar. Hundreds of concert goers were stranded as they tried to flee the chaos. Here are three top legal stories stemming from the fiasco.
1. Billy McFarland: Six Years in Prison, $25.6 Million Forfeiture, Banned for Life by SEC
Billy McFarland, the 27-year-old founder of the company that created the festival, turned out to be a real piece of work. Based on all the lies he told investors and ticket buyers, he landed himself in a load of hot water. McFarland pleaded guilty to two counts of federal wire-fraud charges, which were based on the fraudulent brokerage and bank statements he used to collect millions of dollars from investors.
In October, he was sentenced to six years in federal prison and ordered to forfeit the $25.6 million he had collected from investors. As a result, he was also permanently barred from serving as either an officer or a director of a public company.
2. Two North Carolina Ticket Buyers Get $5 Million Verdict Against McFarland
Seth Crossno and Mark Thompson from North Carolina filed a lawsuit against McFarland claiming they each spent about $13,000 on VIP packages for the festival, which turned out to be a scam. In total, they were awarded $5 million, consisting of $1.5 million for each of them in compensatory damages, accounting for travel, lodging, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. They each were also awarded $1 million in punitive damages. McFarland is incarcerated and insolvent right now. It will be interesting to see if these two can collect.
3. Ja Rule, Along With McFarland, Sued for $100 Million in Class Action Breach and Fraud Suit
Ja Rule, a very successful American rap artist, was a co-founder of Fyre Festival. As such, he has been named in most lawsuits involving the festival, especially now that McFarland is likely insolvent. Though the North Carolina plaintiffs settled with Ja Rule out of court for undisclosed terms, the rapper is still a named party in the $100 million class action lawsuit ticket buyers have brought for breach of contract and fraud.
In the lawsuit filed by plaintiff Daniel Jung and celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos, Ja Rule, or Jeff Atkins as he is legally known, and McFarland allegedly knowingly “lured” festival goers into “a complete disaster, mass chaos, and a post-apocalyptic nightmare.” The lawsuit claims the event was closer to “Hunger Games” and “Lord of the Flies” than the Coachella experience the founders were promising. They are looking for compensatory and punitive damages.
Stay tuned to find out how this class action turns out.