Celebrity lawyer files $100m lawsuit against Fyre festival organizers

Guardian staff
‘This is an unacceptable guest experience and the Fyre team takes full responsibility for the issues that occurred’ … a statement from the organizers and a scene from the festival. Photograph: AP

Celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos has filed a $100m lawsuit against Fyre festival organizers Ja Rule and Billy McFarland.

Geragos is working on behalf of plaintiff Daniel Jung and is expecting more than 150 others to join him for a class action suit, seeking damages for alleged fraud, breach of contract, breach of covenant of good faith and negligent misrepresentation. His previous clients have included Michael Jackson and Kesha.

The suit claims 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 much-hyped festival, set to feature acts including Disclosure, Migos and Major Lazer, kicked off last week disastrously with the site unprepared for visitors and amenities failing to live up to the glamour promised by the star-studded promotional campaign.

Tickets to the event, which like Coachella was set to take place over two weekends, ranged from $1,000 to $125,000 for a luxury package. Festivalgoers are being given refunds as well as free entry to the 2018 festival which is set to take place in the US.

The suit claims that “festivalgoers 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”.

The private Fyre Cay island in the Bahamas was ultimately not suitable for such an event and on the official website, the organizers are now providing an explanation for why it went so wrong.

“The team was overwhelmed,” it reads. “The airport was jam packed. The buses couldn’t handle the load. And the wind from rough weather took down half of the tents on the morning our guests were scheduled to arrive. This is an unacceptable guest experience and the Fyre team takes full responsibility for the issues that occurred.”

Ja Rule has already expressed his disappointment, saying he was “heartbroken” while Bella Hadid, who appeared in promotional materials for the festival as well as supporting it via social media, has also expressed her regret.

“I initially trusted this would be an amazing & memorable experience for all of us, which is why I agreed to do one promotion,” she wrote on Twitter, adding: “… not knowing about the disaster that was to come … I feel so sorry and badly because this is something I couldn’t stand by, although of course if I would have known about the outcome, you would have all known too.”

The 25-year-old co-organizer Billy McFarland has also explained, in a Rolling Stone article, how overly ambitious he was. “We thought we were making timeframes that were correct,” he wrote. “We were a little naive 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.”

Neither he or Ja Rule has yet replied to the suit.