In the two weeks since the disastrous Fyre Festival was shut down amid accusations of fraud and less-than luxurious conditions, event organizers Ja Rule and Billy McFarland have been hit with six class-action lawsuits seeking payback for ticket purchases and other damages. This week, a seventh legal action was filed – this one accusing the two of defaulting on a $3 million loan they had borrowed to put on the so-called luxury event.
The latest lawsuit, filed Wednesday by New York financier EHL Funding LLC in Manhattan Supreme Court, names the rapper – whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins – McFarland and fellow festival organizer Robert Nemeth as defendants.
It claims EHL issued the loan on April 10 “to provide certain funding in connection with a music event known as the Fyre Festival scheduled to take place on an island in the Bahamas during April and May 2017,” according to court documents.
In exchange, Ja Rule signed for the loan and agreed to be the one responsible for making weekly payments until it would have reached maturity May 31, if not sooner.
But Ja Rule, the lawsuit alleges, defaulted. Between April 18 and April 21, he made partial payments of $51,500 and $56,900, totaling $108,400. He paid an additional $760,000 toward the loan around that same time, but after the 21st – crickets, court documents say.
EHL Funding wants the balance of the loan paid back, plus interest and default interest, attorneys fees and other costs to be determined by the court.
Ja Rule and McFarland had created the Fyre Festival in part to drum up excitement for booking app Fyre Media. Fyre Festival had been billed as a high-end, exclusive festival on a private island, with ticket packages ranging between $1,500 and $250,000. Major acts like Blink-182, Disclosure, Kaytranada, Migos, Rae Sremmurd, Tyga, Desiigner, Pusha T and Major Lazer signed on.
But when festival guests started to arrive, they found conditions that were starkly different from the paradise they were promised. There were disaster-relief tents set up for shelter, rationed food, no medical care, scarce electricity and little to no help or information from festival staff. At the same time, the performers had dropped out.
“I’m heartbroken at this moment,” Ja Rule tweeted April 28. “I don’t know how everything went so left but I’m working to make it right by making sure everyone is refunded.”
Earlier this month, celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos filed a $100 million class action suit against Ja Rule and his fellow Fyre Festival organizers, calling it a “get-rich quick scam.” It seeks damages for Geragos’ client, Daniel Jung, who spent over $2,000 on a ticket package and airfare to the festival in the Bahamas. The suit also aims to cover all of the plaintiffs burned by festival organizers, including some who spent as much as $100,000 on a ticket package.
Geragos’ lawsuit claims event organizers had not set up food service or accommodations as late as a month prior to the festival’s first weekend, and vendors had already started pulling out because they weren’t being paid.
Ja Rule and other organizers were still promoting the festival and delivering assurances of its safety and comfort, even though they had personally reached out to celebrities and performers to encourage them not to attend. Festivalgoers by then were already stranded on the island.
Ja Rule’s April 28 tweet maintains that the Fyre Festival was not a scam. He’s been mostly absent from social media ever since.
“I truly apologize as this is NOT MY FAULT,” he said in the same tweet, “but I’m taking responsibility. I’m deeply sorry to everyone who was inconvenienced by this.”
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