Last week, Jeffrey Atkins (better known as Ja Rule) asked Judge Castel to dismiss claims against him stemming from the “Fyre Festival,” a 2017 music festival in the Bahamas that descended into chaos after organizers were unable to deliver the luxury accommodations, celebrity chefs, and musical acts that attendees were expecting (see NYT coverage here). Plaintiffs accused Atkins specifically of making two social media posts upon which the plaintiffs relied – promising that the festival would be “the biggest FOMO-inducing event of 2017” and promising attendees the day before the festival that “the stage is set” (see complaint here).
In his motion to dismiss, Atkins argued that these two posts were the only statements upon which plaintiffs could even have claimed to relied, as other statements by Atkins did not become publicly known until after the festival occurred:
The SAC’s allegations about Atkins are comprised in their entirety of four social media posts, one unparticularized post-Festival statement, a drink toast made at a private corporate dinner, and his corporate biography from documents given only to potential corporate investors. Of these factual claims, only two of Atkins’s internet posts were publicly available before the Festival, and therefore are the only two statements to which Plaintiffs could have been exposed. Tellingly, not a single Plaintiff claims to have seen, have been aware of, or have been influenced by Atkins’s statements. You cannot rely on what you do not know and therefore, even if each of the SAC’s alleged facts are true, Plaintiffs could not have reasonably relied on the statements because they were unaware of them.
According to Atkins, the social media posts referring to “FOMO” and that the “stage [was] set” were non-actionable puffery. Atkins further argued that he was not a party to the contracts under which plaintiffs’ claims arose, and that plaintiffs had engaged in impermissible “group pleading” by not articulating precisely which acts were attributable to Atkins.