Miami Music Week

Rapture's Lawsuit Against Ultra Dismissed Once Again by Judge UPDATED

The scene at Ultra in 2018.
The scene at Ultra in 2018. Amadeus McCaskill
click to enlarge The scene at Ultra in 2018. - AMADEUS MCCASKILL
The scene at Ultra in 2018.
Amadeus McCaskill
Update 5 p.m. Friday, February 15: U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro dismissed Rapture's federal lawsuit with prejudice, holding it was just a "rickety soapbox [that] serve[s] no purpose other than to hoist Rapture’s list of grievances into court and, from there, into the public’s view." She also dismissed state claims but left open the possibility the festival could refile in state court.

Rapture has stopped selling tickets to its March event until further notice. On Thursday, February 14, Rapture filed a motion to prevent Ultra from moving forward with plans to stage its festival the weekend of March 29 in Virginia Key Beach Park. According to the motion, provided to New Times by Rapture's attorney Paul K. Silverberg, "based on... the current situation, it was clear that the Rapture festival would definitely need to be rescheduled or moved outside the City of Miami but for Court intervention. Rapture has stopped ticket sales... Rapture is ready to reopen ticket sales if an injunction is granted."

After a judge dismissed its prior lawsuit against Ultra Music Festival for lack of grounds earlier this month, Rapture Festival vowed to try again.

Now a new suit to determine which electronic music festival will take over Virginia Key Beach Park during Miami Music Week is scheduled for an initial federal court date of March 22 — just one week before both events are set to open.

The March 22 court date is a "planning and scheduling meeting," according to the Miami Herald. In the meantime, both festivals are allowed to continue to promote their respective events, including selling tickets. But the outcome of the case is uncertain, and some fans could be left without plans — and without the hundreds of dollars they spent on tickets and travel costs — during Miami's biggest music weekend.

Rapture's new lawsuit adds details to support its argument that Ultra conspired with the City of Miami to violate antitrust laws. Rapture claims Ultra privately met with city officials in October to shut the smaller festival out of the competition. Rapture also says that in March 2018, it filed its application to return to Virginia Key and followed up with a $3,000 deposit in October, two weeks before Ultra's alleged meeting with the city.

All of this, the suit claims, is proof that "Rapture’s application for its festival was ignored, skipped, and otherwise disregarded” in violation of federal law.

Ultra has not yet commented on the new lawsuit and did not immediately respond to New Times' requests for comment. Rapture, on the other hand, is positioning itself as the David to Ultra's Goliath.

"This is definitely the fight of the growing festival versus the machine and those only caring about money," Rapture lawyer Paul K. Silverberg said in a statement. "We ask you to stand by us and take on all those that oppose your right to choose and have options in music, environment, and overall atmosphere. A loss for Rapture is just another step toward 'them' limiting your choices and your experiences."
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Ciara LaVelle is New Times' former arts and culture editor. She earned her BS in journalism at Boston University and moved to Florida in 2004. She joined New Times' staff in 2011.
Contact: Ciara LaVelle