Because apparently, Ja Rule doesn’t believe multiple social media posts promoting his own music festival makes him legally liable.
For months, then-25-year-old multi-millionaire entrepreneur Billy McFarland and Ja Rule — real name Jeffrey Atkins — promised fans the music experience of a lifetime.
A luxury yacht on a cool, sunny beach in the Bahamas. Crystal blue waters. Supermodels by day. Awesome music by night from the world’s hottest bands.
Targeted at rich, young millennials, McFarland and Ja Rule planned to fly fans to the Bahamas in a VIP-equipped 747. Then, fans would have been taken to The Exumas, a remote island once owned by Pablo Escobar. Fyre Festival tickets ranged from $450 to $100,000.
McFarland and Ja Rule already knew they wouldn’t be able to handle the planned magnitude of the event. Yet, they still paid social media influencers hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote the Fyre Festival. Kendall Jenner, for example, received $250,000 for a single Instagram post.
Fans didn’t realize McFarland and Ja Rule couldn’t deliver on their promise until they arrived on the island.
Upon landing on the beach, festivalgoers realized the ‘luxury’ festival lacked even fundamental human necessities. Fans scrambled to find toilets, showers, and food.
Yet, McFarland and Ja Rule did manage to deliver a unique experience of a lifetime. On the island, instead of supermodels and music, festivalgoers found feral dogs, leftover disaster relief tents, and the promised ‘gourmet food’ – two slices of wheat bread, Swiss cheese, lettuce, and a few sliced tomatoes.
You can’t get that at Coachella.
Clearly infuriated, fans filed lawsuits against McFarland and Ja Rule.
Now, despite spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote the event, Ja Rule has filed a new claim. Legally speaking, the disaster wasn’t his fault.
“Do as I say, but, please, don’t hold me legally responsible.”
Following the disastrous event, Daniel Jung, along with celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos, filed a class-action lawsuit against Jeffrey Atkins.
According to Geragos – who has worked with Michael Jackson and Chris Brown – Atkins and McFarland knowingly “lured” festivalgoers into “a complete disaster, mass chaos, and a post-apocalyptic nightmare.”
The lawsuit read,
“The festival’s lack of adequate food, water, shelter, and medical care created a dangerous and panicked situation among attendees…that was closer to ‘The Hunger Games’ or ‘Lord of the Flies’ than Coachella. Festivalgoers survived on bare rations, little more than bread and a slice of cheese, and tried to escape…in the only shelter provided…small clusters of ‘FEMA tents’…that were soaked and battered by wind and rain.”
Claiming Atkins violated four causes of action, the lawsuit asked a federal court for $100 million in damages.
Ja Rule quickly responded, refusing to accept any liability for the festival chaos.
While his business partner was busy promoting Fyre Festival 2018, Atkins wrote,
“We are working right now on getting everyone of the island SAFE. That’s my immediate concert…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…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.”
According to the New York Times, the rapper quickly “deleted a number of posts that hyped the event from his Instagram page.”
In a motion to dismiss the $100 million class-action lawsuit filed last Friday, Atkins fought back against the claims. He called festivalgoers’ allegations of emotional trauma caused by the rapper “non-actionable puffery.”
Atkins also defended himself against claims that he didn’t deliver on the promise of a luxurious event that would last several days. Citing the event’s cancelation on the first day, the rapper claimed the plaintiffs only sued Fyre Media, not him. And, the class action lawsuit merely copied and pasted allegations against Atkins, making assertions “devoid of factual support.” After all, festivalgoers have unfairly targeted him because he’s the only “solvent defendant.”
Backing away from the Fyre Festival, the rapper now claimed he only had a “high-level, non-operational role.” He didn’t have an “executive C-level title” nor was he a “Fyre Starter” – a paid social media influencer. Thus, he wasn’t responsible for the disaster.
Atkins also admitted to posting the following toasts promoting the Fyre Festival. Yet, he claims the defendants never saw nor were aware of the posts. Thus, he couldn’t have influenced them.
“Fyre Festival looks set to be the biggest FOMO (fear of missing out)-inducing event of 2017. Think Coachella x 1,000 and you’re still not even close.”
“The stage is set!!! In less than 24 hours the first annual fyrefestival begins #festivallife.”
Ja Rule states the toasts only became public after the festival’s cancelation. And, he wasn’t ever on the island nor at the event. Thus, he didn’t directly cause anyone to attend the festival nor inflict any emotional injuries. Therefore, because Plaintiffs can’t support any argument against Atkins, the lawsuit should be dismissed.
You can check out the complete motion to dismiss below, including Atkins’ extended arguments denying any legal responsibility.
Featured image by Eduardo Santos (CC by 2.0).