Mark Geragos Talks Fyre Festival Lawsuit in Exclusive Interview

Mark Geragos
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In little more than a week, the Fyre Festival — the heavily hyped luxury concert in the Bahamas starring Blink-182, Migos and Disclosure that collapsed on in a mess of disorganization on April 29, before it had even started — has become a symbol for arrogance and ineptitude. Far from the luxury accommodations and celebrity-chef-prepared meals promised by its producers — tech entrepreneur Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule — concertgoers were met with flimsy tents, boxed lunches, near-total disorganization and long waits for flights to return to the mainland after airlines began refusing to fly would-be concertgoers to the overcrowded island of Exumas. One production professional briefly associated with the festival told Variety the event was marked by “incompetence on an almost inconceivable scale.”

Not surprisingly, there have been ramifications, not least in the form of four class-action lawsuits filed against the festival thus far. The first of those was a $100 million suit filed April by celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos, no stranger to controversial cases: His past clients include Michael Jackson, Winona Ryder, singers Chris Brown and Kesha and politician Gary Condit. Geragos filed on behalf of plaintiff Daniel Jung, who is seeking $5 million in damages for alleged fraud, breach of contract, breach of covenant of good faith and negligent misrepresentation. The suit anticipates a class of “more than 150 “plaintiffs for whom it seeks a minimum of $100 million. Geragos will be busy over the upcoming week seeking out other litigants to join the suit, which alleges that 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.”

Geragos spoke via email with Variety on Saturday about the case. He singles out Hard Events’ Hard Summer festival as a “platinum standard” event in terms of organization and planning, although it has been marred by five drug deaths in the past two years (for more on that topic, see Variety’s interview with Hard founder Gary Richards last month).

Now that there are four separate suits, is it possible they will be joined into a single class action, and how might that play out?

Geragos: It is likely that at some point they may be consolidated but we won’t know for a bit.

How many people have joined your class-action suit since it was announced?

We have had inquiries and prospective clients well over 1,000 so far, and they come in every day.

Related

Fyre Festival

Fyre Festival Employees Reveal Details Behind the Disaster: ‘It Was Incompetence on an Inconceivable Scale’

Negligence is listed as cause of action, but do you also believe there was criminal intent at play?

No comment at this time.

Is there a precedent get-rich-quick scheme that you would compare Fyre to?

This is a classic “Bust out” fraud scheme.

Is it your belief that concertgoers were in real danger?

The stories we have been hearing over and over again are harrowing.

How complicit are the “influencers,” such as Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid, who were paid thousands of dollars to promote the festival on social media? Will there be any tangible impact on those celebrities as the legal proceedings play out?

This points out a pervasive and potentially actionable downside to having a social media presence.

Generally speaking, what kind of assurances should be met in order for an event of Fyre’s purported size to move forward in the future?

There are some really outstanding promoters in this space. Hard Summer Fest in particular really is the platinum standard for these types of events in terms of planning and foreseeing all kinds of problems. Even then it’s always a difficult task; there will always be problems when you have large crowds. However, Fyre was a Petri dish of fraud, incompetence and hubris.

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    1. Charles Desman says:

      It’s a valuable lesson to every celebrity to carefully vet the people and things they lend their names and reputations to.

    2. sdr says:

      As an older man, I’ve been following this whole Fyre Festival fiasco with interest. I personally have no interest in modern music ( I came of age in the 80s), and have a hard time understanding why young people would just blindly follow what any fake, superficial celebrity would post on a social media account.

      But despite ‘millennial bashing’, the bottom line was that they paid for a service which the organizers were not capable of delivering, and also I believe that culpability should lie with the likes of Kendall Jenner- who obviously only cares about $$$-and not doing any diligence into the products she endorses!
      At least some celebrities of the past actually cared more about honesty- or put more effort into understanding what they were selling at least!

      Its was almost predictable that the lawsuits would start – since people with money don’t like or appreciate being screwed over. Being older, I also have a hard time understanding why young people would follow a gangster rapper like Ja rule (who builds a reputation around criminal behavior) then think he would be a good choice to oversee a music festival?

      I don’t believe that the Festival organizers are capable of paying back the money that they are being sued for.

      Life lesson learned- beauty and superficiality is exactly that, but there is no substitute for competence, intelligence, and customer service!

    3. Sam says:

      I hope the judge dismisses.
      It was an accident with no intent to harm.
      It’s the same as trying to make a claim against a homeless person living in the park and making a mess.
      They had dreams that were unfulfilled.
      The attendees inflicted themselves by not being prudent customers.
      And
      like allred and bloom, it’s unethical for a lawyer to talk about details of a case in public before it has produced the case and details in front of a judge.
      It’s illegal inducing. Inducing a public decision on a claim not a legal result.
      Please though out these lawyers from the legal profession. It’s disgraceful to honorable lawyers that took an oath
      of honor and integrity.

      • Kaboom! says:

        It wasn’t an accident with no intent to harm! It was incompetence with intent to do fraud! Big difference, and that difference should result in all involved with the fraud should be punished severely. The customers may/may not have been prudent….but they were lied to by the promoters. If you aren’t an attorney, don’t pretend to be one. You aren’t.

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