Disgruntled concertgoers filed a class action Tuesday on behalf of thousands of people who attended the Elements Music and Arts Festival in September, a troubled EDM festival that has drawn comparisons to the infamous Fyre Festival.
Held on Labor Day weekend, the Elements festival drew thousands of fans to rural Pennsylvania with a lineup that featured EDM stalwarts like Diplo, CloZee and Griz. But in the days after, fans flooded social media with complaints of muddy conditions, shoddy staffing, little water and 10-hour waits to enter.
In a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court that echoed those complaints, three Elements attendees accused the event’s organizers of gross negligence, deceptive business practices and other wrongdoing over an “understaffed, disorganized, and unsanitary festival.”
“Elements Festival was a completely disorganized mess, and did not offer the experience Defendants had advertised, which became apparent immediately upon the attendees’ arrival,” attorneys for the concertgoers wrote.
In a statement issued after the event, the festival’s planners have apologized for the problems and largely attributed them to Hurricane Ida, which brought extreme rainfall to the area in the days before the event and forced last-minute changes. They admitted they “should have communicated these challenges earlier and better” and promised “to do better” at the 2022 event.
But Tuesday’s lawsuit said the problems went far beyond a simple weather snafu. In addition to failures to plan around the weather, the lawsuit cited key failures around COVID-19 safety protocols, as well as a failure to provide enough water to fans who were not allowed to bring much of their own.
“Defendants had essentially ignored Hurricane Ida’s arrival in the area, did not provide adequate staffing for the musical festival, did not properly screen attendees for COVID-19, had insufficient food and water supplies, [and] the lodging was not as advertised,” attorneys for the fans wrote. “All of this combined with the lack of basic amenities for attendees created an uncomfortable and dangerous situation.”
As defendants, the lawsuit named companies Elements Production LLC, BangOn!NYC, and Tested Contained Retreats LLC, as well as individual co-founders Brett Herman and Timothy Monkiewicz. A representative for festival’s organizers told Billboard they had not yet been served with the lawsuit, but that “thousands of people enjoyed the festival, and we are looking forward to 2022.”
Notably, the case was filed by the California-based law firm Geragos & Geragos, which represented fans in a similar case against the organizers of Fyre Festival – the spectacularly failed 2017 event in the Bahamas that captured headlines, spawned multiple documentaries, and led to a six-year prison sentence for its founder.
The Fyre Festival lawsuit resulted in a roughly $2 million settlement split among hundreds of fans, though the total was likely lower than it might have been, since Fyre Festival’s corporate entity declared bankruptcy in the wake of the disastrous failure.
The new lawsuit was filed as a class action, meaning it could eventually represent any Elements attendee who suffered harm at the festival. Attorneys for the fans did not include a specific number of potential plaintiffs, but noted that “thousands of people” had purchased tickets.