One of the survivors of the disastrous Fyre Festival in the Bahamas has filed a $100 million class action lawsuit against co-founders Billy McFarland and Ja Rule (real name Jeffrey Atkins), accusing the duo of subjecting festivalgoers to “dangerous conditions” at a luxury festival that organizers allegedly knew was doomed.
In a legal complaint obtained by Rolling Stone, the suit claims that “this outrageous failure to prepare, coupled with Defendants’ deliberate falsehoods in promoting the island ‘experience,’ demonstrates that the Fyre Festival was nothing more than a get-rich-quick scam from the very beginning.”
“Defendants intended to fleece attendees for hundreds of millions of dollars by inducing them to fly to a remote island without food, shelter or water — and without regard to what might happen to them after that,” the suit adds.
In the lawsuit, filed by lawyer Mark Geragos on behalf of attendee Daniel Jung, the many shortcomings of the festival are mapped out via eyewitness reports and social media postings, providing a tableaux of just how poorly conceived and planned the festival was.
“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,” the lawsuit states.
“Festival-goers survived on bare rations, little more than bread and a slice of cheese, and tried to escape the elements in the only shelter provided by Defendants: small clusters of ‘FEMA tents,’ exposed on a sand bar, that were soaked and battered by wind and rain.”
— Tr3vor (@trev4president) April 28, 2017
“We have been deluged with calls from people with horror stories,” Geragos tells Rolling Stone. “We will be expanding the scope of our case dramatically and we are pursuing other remedies as well.”
The lawsuit alleges fraud and breach of contract against the organizers, levying claims that McFarland and Atkins knowingly lied about the festival’s promised location – it was not an island privately owned by Pablo Escobar as promised, but rather a gravelly site near a Sandals in the Bahamas strewn with garbage.
Because the festival was “cashless” – organizers recommended attendees deposit funds into the Fyre wristband – many attendees did not have the necessary money to ensure transportation back to the Bahamas airport as the festival collapsed Friday.
The lawsuit also alleges that McFarland and Ja Rule knew that the festival was troubled but proceeded anyway, putting festivalgoers in danger.
“Shockingly, Defendants had been aware for months that their festival was dangerously under-equipped and posed a serious danger to anyone in attendance,” the lawsuit added.
“More troublingly, Mr. McFarland and Mr. Atkins began personally reaching out to performers and celebrities in advance of the festival and warned them not to attend — acknowledging the fact that the festival was outrageously underequipped and potentially dangerous for anyone in attendance.”
“We are in the process of helping all Fyre Festival guests apply for refunds,” a member of the festival’s management team tells Rolling Stone. “All guests who purchased tickets have been sent the appropriate form to start the refund procedure. The Fyre Festival is a dream and vision that we regrettably did not see come to life how we’d imagined in 2017, but our main priority now is rectifying the situation and helping all affected guests.
“Once the refund application process is complete, we will start sharing news on plans for Fyre Festival 2018,” he adds. “Currently 81% of guests who have filled out the refund application have said they would like to attend Fyre Festival 2018. We are so thankful for their support and excitement as we strive to make this right.”
Speaking to Rolling Stone, McFarland acknowledged that the first-time festival organizers were “a little naive” and quickly became overwhelmed under the circumstances, but added that the Fyre Festival would return in 2018 at a stateside venue.
“We were overwhelmed and just didn’t have the foresight to solve all these problems,” McFarland said. “We thought we were making timeframes that were correct. We were a little naïve in thinking for the first time we could do this ourselves. Next year, we will definitely start earlier. The reality is, we weren’t experienced enough to keep up.”
“I’m heartbroken at this moment,” Ja Rule told Rolling Stone last week. “My partners and I wanted this to be an amazing event, it was NOT A SCAM as everyone is reporting. I don’t know how everything went so left but I’m working to make it right by making sure everyone is refunded … I truly apologize as this is NOT MY FAULT … but I’m taking responsibility. I’m deeply sorry to everyone who was inconvenienced by this.”