Fyre Festival Organizers Sued for $100 Million in Class Action Lawsuit

Attendees are taking aim at promoters Ja Rule and Billy McFarland
By Samantha Schnurr May 01, 2017 6:01 PMTags
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According to the documents obtained by E! News, the lawsuit alleges 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." Attendees who paid thousands of dollars for advertised luxury accommodations, celebrity sightings and A-list performances, shared images of FEMA-style tents, scarce bread and cheese dinners and alleged wild animals.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs also claim that efforts to "escape" were crippled by the fact that they relied on the event and its organizers for transportation. Because it was promoted as a "cashless" event—attendees were instructed to upload money to a wristband—they allege they had trouble purchasing basic transportation to leave because they didn't have cash on hand. 

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The class action lawsuit, filed on behalf of all ticket buyers and festival attendees, takes aim at Ja Rule and McFarland and claims they had been aware for "months that their festival was dangerously under-equipped" and that food service and accommodations on Fyre Cay in the Grand Bahamas Exuma Island chain were not in place as recently as last month. Allegedly, contractors hired for the site had not been paid and refused to work. 

"Defendants were knowingly lying about the festival's accommodations and safety, and continued to promote the event and sell ticket packages," the lawsuit claims. "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."

Overall, the plaintiffs are seeking $100 million in damages on behalf of the class. 

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Ja Rule has since spoken publicly about the controversy to explain his side of the story. 

"I'm heartbroken at this moment my partners and I wanted this to be an amazing event it was NOT A SCAM as everyone is reporting," Ja Rule tweeted Friday. "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…"

Meanwhile, the organizers issued an official explanation for the chaos, vowed to refund all of the attendees and teased a new festival for 2018 in the United States. 

"As amazing as the islands are, the infrastructure for a festival of this magnitude needed to be built from the ground up. So, we decided to literally attempt to build a city. We set up water and waste management, brought an ambulance from New York, and chartered 737 planes to shuttle our guests via 12 flights a day from Miami. We thought we were ready, but then everyone arrived," a statement on the Fyre Festival website read Saturday. 

"The team was overwhelmed. 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."