Fyre Fest Founder Billy McFarland Loses $5M Lawsuit to Two Attendees
One of the plaintiffs, Seth Crossno, helped chronicle the disastrous Bahamian event on Twitter.
The blogger who helped chronicle the disastrous Bahamian Fyre Festival and his friend have won a $5 million lawsuit against the event's founder Billy McFarland.
Seth Crossno and co-plaintiff Mark Thompson, who both live in Raleigh, North Carolina, were handed a victory against McFarland last week, The News & Observer reports, after he failed to respond to court proceedings for over a year.
McFarland is currently in jail and due to be sentenced next month on two counts of wire fraud. Last month, prosecutors brought new charges against him, alleging he continued to scam people since Fyre Festival while out on bail.
Crossno and Thompson are the first of the festival's victims to obtain a judgment against McFarland. Together they paid about $13,000 for travel, accommodations and luxury VIP passes to the exotic event, but when they got there instead found a logistical mess of disaster relief tents on a rocky island with none of the glamorous amenities they had been promised.
Crossno and Thompson's attorney, Stacy Miller, told The News & Observer his clients were each were awarded $1.5 million in compensatory damages for flights, hotels and mental anguish, pain and suffering. They were each also awarded an additional $1 million in punitive damages.
McFarland was not present for the North Carolina trial and the judge ruled in his absence.
"We feel very satisfied," Miller told Vice News. "We asked the court to send a message to those who defraud North Carolina consumers, and we believe he did."
Vice News also reports Crossno has a podcast called "Dumpster Fyre" in the works, where he will comment on the festival, and recently applied for the expired Fyre trademark.
As for whether Crossno and Thompson will be able to actually collect the money from McFarland, their attorney Miller is optimistic. Speaking with Vice News, Miller pointed to a recent motion filed by federal prosecutors in McFarland's criminal case stating that, despite failing to pay various attorneys and crisis management groups for their services, he may still have money tucked away. That includes at least $50,000 in cash and a $40,000-per-month income from "freelance work" he allegedly reported to his probation officer.
Amid the many class action and investor suits currently pending against McFarland and Fyre Media, Miller told Vice News, "I think there's going to be a lot of people looking to collect, but we'll be first."