MIAMI — A North Carolina healthcare executive today filed a class action lawsuit in federal court in Miami against rapper Ja Rule and other organizers of the ill-fated Fyre Festival, a high-end music and technology festival that turned into a nightmare.
The event, which was supposed to take place last weekend and today through Sunday in The Exumas, became an epic failure implicating celebs like Kardashian clan up-and-comer Kendall Jenner, who was paid $250,000 to promote the event despite the fact she didn’t attend.
Through a clever Internet campaign that went viral, organizers like New York entrepreneur Billy McFarland promised a unique VIP experience to those buying tickets as high as $12,000 per.
They promised a pristine private island with luxury cabanas and world-class facilities that would be reached by private jets from Miami, top chefs cooking for everybody and at least 30 top bands performing.
Think Woodstock for the one percent.
Because of circumstances that included an overwhelming demand, inclement weather, disorganization and, frankly, greed, the first guests of the “transformative” event who filed into The Exumas last weekend found an event in such disarray that it had to be canceled.
Even the beaches marketed as “exclusive” were infested with sharks, preventing dips into the ocean.
Dozens of planes from Miami were commandeered to help hundreds of panicky people stuck on the island return to the United States.
Some complained they were robbed by locals and others claimed they ate Bahamas government handouts with some of the island’s feral dogs.
Organizers promised to reimburse everybody but are asking people to fill out application forms. There’s also the matter of the wristbands that festivalgoers had to buy to use as currency.
“Those who bought wristbands had to put money into an account held by the festival so that they didn’t have to carry cash,” said Chad Levy, the Fort Lauderdale lawyer who filed suit on behalf of Ken and Emily Reel. “My clients put in $600. There’s no mention in the applications of getting that money back.”
Levy said it made sense to file the lawsuit in Miami because all festivalgoers had one thing in common: They were told to travel to Miami, and everything else would be taken care of.
“Miami was the hub,” Levy said. “People came from all over the world, and all converged to Miami. Some got stuck here and spent money on hotels and food.”
Levy says his lawsuit is designed to not only make festivalgoers whole, but also to obtain damages. His clients spent $4,500 on tickets, including the two-night stay in a “luxury cabana.”
“Every person who paid to attend should get something more for their trouble,” Levy said.
Two other lawsuits have been filed, one in New York and their other in Los Angeles, but Levy said he expects all legal action against Fyre Festival will be consolidated into one in Miami.