Legal and Management

Roxodus Organizers Allegedly Misappropriated $3.8M From Eventbrite for Failed Festival's Customer Refunds

Olaf Herschbach/EyeEm/Getty Images


They have until Thursday to respond to new lawsuits.

Eventbrite has filed two lawsuits in California against organizers of the failed Roxodus music festival, which went belly up in July and filed for bankruptcy weeks later. 

After advancing the festival millions in ticket sales, the San Francisco ticketing firm stepped up and issued $3.8 millions of dollars in refunds to fans, saying it would "continue to aggressively pursue" promoters Fab Loranger and Michael Dunphy with MF Live for the $4.1 million they owed the company, filing separate lawsuits against both men on July 14.

Loranger has until Thursday to answer the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in California where Eventbrite is headquartered. A second lawsuit against Dunphy was also filed in San Francisco with a Thursday deadline.  

Calling Roxodus the "Canadian version of the much-publicized Fyre Festival debacle of 2017," lawyers for Eventbrite describe the failed Roxodus festival as a “poorly-orchestrated sequel with lower production value.”   

Dunphy and Loranger registered MF Live as the entity to present the ambitious four-day rock music festival July 11-14 at the makeshift venue Edenvale Airport, 90 minutes outside Toronto. Nickelback, Lynryd Skynyrd, Kid Rock, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Billy Idol and Blondie were all scheduled to appear. Without any warning, the festival was canceled on July 3, and Eventbrite alleges Dunphy and Loranger allegedly kept changing their story, “blaming the weather, one another, the musical talent, and other bogus ‘reasons.’”     

Fans bought $4.3 million in Roxodus tickets, parking passes, accommodations packages and other credentials through the Eventbrite website, "none of which has been returned by Defendants as required by contract and governing law,” according to Eventbrite lawyer Adam Cashman.

Dunphy and Loranger signed their ticketing contract with Eventbrite in November, listing a construction company where Loranger had served as president -- Taurus Projects Group -- as one of the main companies involved in the lawsuit, along with MF Live, an LLC he created two months prior. The men had no experience promoting concerts, but managed to book a strong roster of bands, along with chefs Massimo Capra and Lynn Crawford to create showcase dishes for the event's Celebrity Chef Culinary Experience.

Eventbrite alleges it had an agreement with the defendants to advance a portion of the ticket sales proceeds and that in late 2018 and early 2019 MF Live and Dunphy began to request an increase to the previously agreed upon cap, which Eventbrite would provide. When the festival was canceled, MF Live initially promised to provide information concerning refunds, but never did so, the suit claims. "Instead, MF Live removed any reference to refunds from its website, leaving customers in the lurch."

Within two hours of the festival being canceled, Eventbrite "repeatedly demanded that Defendants issue refunds to all customers, many of whom had paid hundreds or thousands of dollars for their Roxodus tickets and credentials," the suit states. After three days of not receiving a response, Eventbrite set up an Eventbrite-funded "fan relief program" to make all Roxodus ticket holders whole while it pursued a case against Dunphy and Loranger.

Between July 5 and 8, Eventbrite paid approximately 5.2 million Canadian dollars (more than $3.8 million) "out of its own coffers to ensure its users did not suffer additional harm at Defendants’ hands," the suit reads. "Defendants are contractually and legally obligated to reimburse Eventbrite for these expenditures and other damages Eventbrite has incurred in the course of protecting its customers from further harm caused by Defendants’ bad faith and unlawful conduct."

In the investigation of festival cancellation, lawyers for Eventbrite learned that Dunphy and Loranger had only obtained one of the 12 permits they needed to stage the event and that construction on the site was far behind schedule.

"The sole route into or out of the Roxodus site -- was incapable of handling even a fraction of the traffic Roxodus would have created," the suit alleges. "In short, in order to unjustly enrich themselves, Defendants lied to the public, Eventbrite, the artists who were to perform at Roxodus, food and hospitality vendors, and countless others."

Eventbrite is suing for breach of contract and breach of faith. Dunphy, Loranger and Eventbrite will begin a case management conference on the lawsuit starting Nov. 14.

Festivals 2019