In the court of public opinion, Ja Rule will probably never quite outrun the shadow of Fyre Festival, but he’s at least likely to escape legal consequences for his role in promoting the infamous 2017 music event.
Mahattan federal court Judge Kevin Castel ruled on Wednesday that the rapper can be dismissed from a civil suit over the festival, filed by outraged ticket-buyers who’d shelled out between $400 and $1,000 to attend the would-be luxury getaway.
In his 32-page decision, Castel concluded that Ja Rule, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, and the fest’s chief marketing officer Grant Margolin—despite encouraging ticket sales and talking up the fest via social media—did not necessarily know that the event would go down in flames.
“[Ja Rule] and Margolin were participants in organizing or promoting a large-scale event,” Castel wrote. “There is no assertion that the Festival when first conceived or introduced to the public was intended not to go forward or that defendants intended not to perform by organizing the advertised amenities and accommodation.”
Ja Rule promoted the fest up until its opening day; “The stage is set!!! In less than 24 hours, the first annual Fyre Festival begins. #festivallife,” he wrote on Twitter. Despite his efforts to attract attendees, the rapper is “not alleged to have known of individual ticket of merchandise sales,” according to Castel’s decision.
“In December 2016 he posted on his personal Twitter account that the Festival would be ‘FOMO – inducing’ and one thousand times better than Coachella,” the decision continued. “These statements have been found to be no more than puffery.”
Despite dismissing all claims in the current suit against Ja Rule and Margolin, Castel gave plaintiffs three weeks to put forth additional evidence that could undergird a new fraud claim against the rapper.
Fyre Festival was marketed as a life-changing party experience, a two-weekend getaway to paradise in which attendees would lounge on a private island in the Bahamas, surrounded by supermodels, entertained by top acts like Blink-182, Major Lazer, Disclosure, Pusha T, and Migos. When attendees showed up, the reality was very different; failure to provide adequate security, infrastructure, and amenities left them stranded in a sea of FEMA tents, plied with measly slices of bread and cheese (not the Steven Starr-catered delicacy that had been promised).
Unlike Ja Rule and Margolin, Fyre Festival founder Billy McFarland has had little luck in shirking liability; he’s currently serving six years behind bars and has been ordered to forfeit $26 million as punishment for defrauding investors in the event. The Fyre Festival debacle, meanwhile, has been the subject of two documentaries at Hulu and Netflix: Hulu's Fyre Fraud and Netflix's Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened.
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