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.
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.