Two men were awarded $5 million in damages in a lawsuit against Fyre Festival founder Billy McFarland in a Raleigh, NC court on June 29. Seth Crossno and Mark Thompson's lawsuit, filed in May of 2017, asked for $25,000 in damages for luring them to a pricey luxury music festival in the Bahamas that ended up being a fiasco, with FEMA style tents, cheese sandwiches, and no immediate way to get off the island. In Wake County Municipal Court on Friday, however, Judge Keith Gregory granted them each $1.5 million in compensatory damages plus an additional $1 million in punitive damages for flights, hotels and mental anguish, pain and suffering. The ruling was made in McFarland's absence, as he hadn't responded over a year of court proceedings.
From Raleigh's The News & Observer:
Stacy Miller, the Raleigh lawyer who represented Crossno and Thompson, said Saturday that he and his clients asked the Wake County judge "to send a message to these people who defrauded North Carolina consumers."
McFarland, he said, "created this big event. He lured these young men away from their homes to another country. It was a very dangerous and scary situation."
Crossno said Saturday the verdict "kind of sends a message that you shouldn't do this."
"This could be portrayed as a bunch of millennials got scammed," said Crossno, 33.
But the advertising for the festival was well executed.
"They obviously spent a great deal of money on their marketing campaign," Thompson added.
Fyre Festival co-creator Ja Rule was initially also named in the lawsuit but was taken out as part of an agreement between the parties. Whether McFarland, who pled guilty to wire fraud and has been arrested since on more fraud changes (and is being sued by other Fyre attendees), has any money to pay them, remains to be seen. "We feel confident about collecting,” Miller told Vice. “I can’t tell you a whole lot about how we’re going to collect it, but we feel confident about it. We have to stay mum on our strategy."