Two Fyre Festival attendees that live-tweeted the disastrous event have been awarded $5 million in damages. They are the first victims to obtain a judgment against founder Billy McFarland. The plaintiffs Seth Crossno and Mark Thompson reside in North Carolina and filed a lawsuit against McFarland back in May 2017. Judgment was finally granted in absentia after McFarland failed to respond to over a year’s worth of court proceedings.
Rapper Ja Rule, who co-created the event with McFarland was also originally named in the suit as well. Since then it’s been concluded that Ja Rule was ignorant to the misdeeds that McFarland was doing. Crossno stated that they worked with Ja Rule’s attorney and amicably decided to remove him from the suit.
The plaintiffs originally requested $25,000 in their initial filing. However, each plaintiff was granted $1.5 million each in compensatory damages, but an additional $1 million in punitive damages. The figure was determined during the trail and included items like hotels, flights, and damages like mental anguish and suffering.
The plaintiffs reportedly spent around $13,000 on the luxury VIP package the festival offered. They were expecting exclusive artists passes, a luxury residence consisting of four bedrooms on a private island, and other high end features advertised. However, the reality was far from that.
They received none of the amenities they paid for. Instead, they got wet disaster relief tends on a gravel pit, sad sandwiches, none of the promised artists, and pure chaos. The two went to the airport where they were locked in overnight before finally boarding a flight the next morning. They were two of the lucky ones that got out first; other attendees had to wait for days before getting a flight out.
The plaintiffs live-tweeted the festival while there, providing updates to the world. Many of the now iconic pictures of the event were taken and posted by Crossno. Crossno now has a podcast called “Dumpster Fyre” in the works and has applied for the Fyre trademark, which has since expired.
While the two won their case, there is still a question about whether or not they will ever see the money. McFarland is currently in jail for selling fraudulent tickets while he was on bail awaiting sentencing for fraud charges related to the Fyre Festival. There has been some speculation and inconsistencies around his finances.
The plaintiff’s lawyer is optimistic though. A recent motion filed by federal prosecutors suggests McFarland still has some funds hidden away. However, McFarland is facing jail time for multiple fraud charges, as well as additional lawsuits from other Fyre Festival attendees. Investors he defrauded are also awaiting payment. Many local Bahamians who were hired for the event still haven’t been paid either, and there is still a question of unpaid import taxes owed to the Bahamian government.