UPDATE: The total number of Fyre-related lawsuits rose to eight after Thursday’s class action filing by Ritu Jutla against Fyre Media, Billy McFarland and Jeffrey “Ja Rule” Atkins. Jutla has sued for intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract and breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, among others.
Another day, another class action lawsuit as the organizers of the Fyre Festival are now facing a sixth lawsuit following the ill-fated “luxury” music fest.
The latest legal action against co-founders Jeffrey “Ja Rule” Atkins and Billy McFarland comes from Kenneth and Emily Reel, a North Carolina couple that paid $4,600 for a VIP villa at the Bahamas festival. However, like many other ticket buyers, they never actually made it to the Exumas, having been stuck at a Miami airport after the fest shut down following its disastrous first day.
“Defendants sold tickets for a music festival of unparalleled luxury,” the lawsuit, filed Friday in a south Florida district court, states; the festival’s headquarters listed a Florida address. “In reality, Fyre Festival was the opposite. The event fell woefully short of what was advertised in virtually every way.”
The Reels are seeking $5 million from Fyre organizers, as well as the festival’s PR agency 42West and advertising company Matte Projects, since both “did not take any steps, let alone reasonable steps, to ensure that their promotional materials and marketing campaigns were accurate.” All defendants are being sued for fraudulent misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, fraud in the inducement and violation of the Florida Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act. In addition, Fyre Festival organizers are being sued for breach of contract.
“Instead of world-class cuisine and entertainment, concert goers found themselves without adequate food, water, shelter, and basic medical care,” the lawsuit continues. “Still others [en] route to the event found themselves stranded in Miami, Florida unsure of how to proceed or of what was occurring on the island.”
“Anyone who suffered damages from this fiasco needs to be made whole,” Jeffrey Backman, a lawyer for the Reels, said in an email statement to Rolling Stone. “The Defendants also need to understand financially that they cannot commit fraud and get away with it in the hopes of becoming legends. It’s one thing for a first time event to have unexpected issues. It’s something completely different when they (a) knew it was falling apart, (b) continued to pretend everything was fine, (c) threatened people who dared to expose what was going on, and (d) are now acting like they care about doing the right thing. Miami is the hub through which every concert-goer, vendor, and organizer went, so we fully expect this case to be heard and ultimately concluded in Miami.”
A representative for 42West declined to comment. Reps for Fyre Festival and Matte Projects did not immediately reply to requests for comment. On Tuesday, a rep for Matte told Pitchfork, in part, “MATTE denies the allegations being made against it and intends to defend itself vigorously against these claims. We believe that MATTE has been sued erroneously, based on an incorrect understanding of the facts and circumstances concerning our connection to Fyre Media and the music festival. The claims relating to the festival concern events in which MATTE had little involvement and for which MATTE should not be held liable.”
Following an article that questioned whether Fyre had the capital necessary to host a music festival, one of the plaintiffs emailed organizers expressing his concerns that the festival was “not on a ‘private island’ as advertised.” The lengthy email laid out the discrepancies between promise and reality, with Kenneth Reel writing organizers that altering basic resources such as location of the festival “inherently change the value of the services being offered at the time of purchase.”
“Marketing the event to be held on a private island when in fact, it will take place on a defunct landholding which is semi-industrial/manmade is extremely misleading,” Reel wrote. “I could continue to dissect your marketing providing several other areas of concern which appear to be clear misrepresentations specifically designed to mislead prospective buyers but we both know the event is ultimately not what [it] was marketing as.” Reel asked for a refund in his email but the defendants “completely ignored the well-articulated request for a refund.”
The latest lawsuit also points out the cease-and-desist letters that Fyre’s lawyers reportedly sent to people who relayed disparaging information about the festival on social media.
“Specifically, if the social media comments were not taken down, the Defendants claim they could ‘incite violence, rioting, or civil unrest,’ with the caveat that if ‘someone innocent does get hurt as a result … Fyre Festival will hold you accountable and responsible,'” the lawsuit stated.
Ja Rule and McFarland are already facing four other class action lawsuits – including one spearheaded by celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos that has 300 plaintiffs, TMZ reports – as well as one lawsuit from the company that was hired to provide medical services at the festival.