Two North Carolina men who attended last year’s disastrous Fyre Festival in the Bahamas were granted $5 million in damages stemming from the event. The pair are the first attendees of the event to obtain a judgement against coproducer Billy McFarland, who has pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and is currently in jail. The reward was first reported by Vice.
Blogger Seth Crossno and co-plaintiff Mark Thompson filed their lawsuit against McFarland in May 2017. On Thursday, the judgment was granted in absentia after McFarland failed to respond to more than a year’s worth of court proceedings.
The concert, scheduled for April of last year, promised luxury accomodations and celebrity-chef-prepared meals along with a lineup featuring Blink-182, Migos and Disclosure, collapsed before it had even started. Far from the five-star treatment promised by its producers — 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.
Last month, McFarland was also charged with running a fraudulent ticket-selling scam while he was out on bail and faces new charges. He is scheduled to be sentenced on his original charges next month.
Ja Rule was initially named in the suit but removed as a defendant after a separate agreement. “We worked with [him] and his attorney and amicably decided to move on to other business matters,” Crossno told Vice.
Stacy Miller, Crossno’s lawyer, said each plaintiff was granted $1.5 million in compensatory damages plus an additional $1 million in punitive damages — far more than the $25,000 minimum they asked for in their initial filing. Miller said the included items like hotels and flights as well as damages like mental anguish, pain, and suffering.
In the lawsuit, Crossno and Thompson say they spent about $13,000 on luxury VIP packages for the festival. Crossno achieved a certain measure of fame by live-tweeting the festival as it unraveled under the alias William Needham Finley IV. He is also, according to an article he apparently wrote on the ITB Insider, now the owner of the Fyre Festival trademark.
“We feel very satisfied,” Miller said. “We asked the court to send a message to those who defraud North Carolina consumers, and we believe he did.”