Ja Rule Accuses Fyre Festival Partner Billy McFarland of Stealing His Artistic Idea

Image via Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Fyre Festival partners Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule aren’t seeing things eye to eye. As they face a plethora of lawsuits, the partners seemed to have turned their backs on one another.

In a report by Law360, the 41-year-old hip-hop artists whose given name is Jeffrey Atkins shifted the blame to his partner, claiming McFarland stole his idea for the music festival. Which is somewhat surprising because up until this point Ja Rule has remained fairly quiet.

Ja Rule and McFarland are obviously under a lot of heat for the catastrophe that was Fyre Festival. However, the rapper has not been criminally charged but is named as a defendant in several of the dozen or so civil cases.

On the other end, McFarland plead not guilty to two counts of wire fraud earlier this month – one for scheming to defraud investors through actions including falsifying emails. He also faces two additional counts allege false statements to a bank.

And now, while McFarland deals with all of this, he has to take on his former partner. When Mcfarland introduced Fyre Festival, he and Ja Rule were labeled as co-organizers. However, Ja Rule’s attorney, Thomas H. Herndon said his client came up with the artistic idea of Fyre Festival.

“His role was primarily to bring the artistic idea to life,” Herndon said. “His artistic idea was hijacked by McFarland. McFarland ran the show. And he has all of the potential liabilities here.”

Herndon also suggested that McFarland may have forged documents.

The new allegations against McFarland came before U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel, who is currently overseeing two civil actions targeting McFarland and Ja Rule. The plaintiffs in the case, Matthew Herlihy and Sean Daley, are seeking damages for being subjected to “horrid conditions” after paying top dollar for tickets to Fyre Festival.

When anyone forms a partnership with another individual, the hope is that the individuals will work together to make the company a success. Unfortunately, there are many circumstances when this simply does not happen. Not all of those circumstances will give rise to a legal claim against business partners. However, there are times when one has legal grounds for a lawsuit. One can sue their business partner if:

  • The business partner engaged in fraud or theft. If the partner stole money or property from the company, a Plaintiff can file a claim to try to recover the items or funds. Theft or embezzlement is not only a civil matter, but is also a criminal matter.
  • A business partner breached his fiduciary duty. A partner owes an obligation to the other partners and the company and a Plaintiff can take action if that duty is breached. A fiduciary duty may be breached when the partners acts in his own best interests instead of doing what is right for the company the individuals have created together.
  • A business partner violates any contractual agreements the individuals have. A person may enter into a wide variety of different contractual agreements, such as a non-disclosure agreement, an employment agreement, a non-compete agreement, and a partnership agreement. When any contract is breached, the party who was the victim of the breach can sue for damages. This includes contracts entered into between co-partners in a business venture.
  • Finally, if a business partner violates intellectual property rights. If the company owns a patent, copyright, or trademark, the business partner cannot begin to personally use this intellectual property without the permission of the company.

As for now, we will have to wait and see what happens between McFarland and Ja Rule. Maybe the former partners will makeup and focus on all of the other pending litigation Fyre Festival faces.

A bankruptcy proceeding related to Fyre Festival is currently underway in Manhattan. Meanwhile, other lawsuits in California, Florida, New Jersey and New York federal courts have the potential to wind up before Judge Castel, although a petition to centralize the thicket of litigation in a multidistrict settling has been declined.


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