More Than 3 Years Later, Fyre Festival Lawsuits Are Still Raging

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An aerial shot of Exuma, The Bahamas, the site of Fyre Festival. Photo Credit: Lee Robinson

More than three years (and two documentaries) after the Fyre Festival disaster, those who lost money to the ill-fated event are continuing to pursue legal actions.

Netherlands resident and Fyre Festival attendee Daniel Jung (along with prominent entertainment lawyer Mark Geragos) levied a $100 million lawsuit against the mastermind behind the fraudulent happening, Billy McFarland, back in April of 2017. (Ja Rule was dropped from the suit in November of 2019.) The case is still proceeding through the court, however, and New York federal judge P. Kevin Castel this week made two new rulings concerning the plaintiff’s requests.

To recap, Jung and his legal team state in the nearly four-year-old suit that “Fyre Festival was nothing more than a get-rich-quick scam from the very beginning.” And because he and so many other fans were “lured to a deserted island and left to fend for themselves,” the over 20-page-long filing maintains that the owed damages “exceed the face value of their ticket packages by many orders of magnitude.”

Now, Judge Castel has declined to issue a default judgement in the case – Billy McFarland remains behind bars, having started serving a six-year prison sentence in 2018 – in addition to refusing to grant the requested class-action status (which would enable other passholders to receive compensation in the event of a legal victory).

Explaining his ruling, the judge emphasized that because Jung doesn’t reside in America, it’s unclear whether he’d be able to “adequately monitor” and participate in the case on behalf of others (mostly from the States) who purchased passes to the Bahamas music festival.

Plus, the possibility that false advertisements had led Jung to purchase a Fyre Festival ticket (a central theme in the complaint) isn’t a well-suited foundation for a class-action lawsuit, per the presiding judge. With different ticketholders having seen different adverts ahead of the festival, which took place in April of 2017, Jung’s claims may not be “typical of those that would be made by absent members of the would-be class.” (In summer, a federal court ordered Kendall Jenner to pay a $90,000 fine for her part in promoting Fyre Festival on social media.)

Lastly, the judge specified that he will however conduct a preliminary hearing concerning the allegations made by Jung.

Andy King, one of the few Fyre Festival employees whose reputation remained largely unscathed in the event’s aftermath, was set to embark on a UK speaking tour towards this year’s start, though the COVID-19 pandemic derailed the scheduled events.

Separately, Billy McFarland requested – but failed to receive – compassionate release from prison due to coronavirus concerns in April. The 28-year-old then contracted the virus in July, but proceeded to make a full recovery.