The latest twist in a legal drama between two Miami music festivals has revived the prospect of a protracted court battle.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro scheduled a March 22 preliminary hearing in Rapture Electronic Music Festival’s lawsuit against Ultra Music Festival, Miami and the Virginia Key Beach Trust.
The Miami judge previously dismissed the case, writing the plaintiff pinned its claims “exclusively on conclusory allegations of conspiracy backed by no factual allegations whatsoever.”
The case revived after Rapture attorney Paul Silverberg filed an amended complaint.
“We accepted the Judge’s comments and put more details on the malicious actions against Rapture into the amended complaint,” Silverberg said in a statement. “We will now proceed full speed against Ultra, EEG, the city of Miami and Virginia Key Beach Park Trust for the wrongful actions they have taken.”
The lawsuit accuses city officials of collaborating with Ultra to help the music industry monolith put Rapture out of business. Rapture, a smaller dance music festival with an environmental bent, was scheduled for March 29-30 at Virginia Key, the venue where it had been situated since premiering in 2017.
However, Ultra’s forcible removal from its longtime home in downtown Miami’s Bayfront Park compelled the gathering to find a new location for its 21st event.
Unfortunately for Rapture’s organizers, Ultra picked the city-owned Virginia Key park and overlapping dates of March 29-31. The Miami City Commission’s approval of Ultra’s new site displaced Rapture, and the smaller event has been fighting back ever since.
Read the amended complaint:
The latest complaint charges the defendants with conspiracy to unreasonably restrain trade and attempted monopolization, and singles out Ultra on a tortious interference count. Additionally, the amended filing contains exhibits cataloging Rapture’s dealings with the city and details just how far along the festival was in assembling its 2019 event.
In his statement, Silverberg reiterated his client’s intention to “stand up for our festival and our fans, vendors, DJs and so many others that make Rapture so special.”
“This is definitely the fight of the growing festival versus the machine and those only caring about money,” he said. “A loss for Rapture is just another step toward ‘them’ limiting your choices and your experiences.”
Silverberg did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.
Ultra attorneys Sandy York and Michael Gaid did not reply to inquiries by deadline. A Feb. 4 statement released by the festival said, “There is no merit to the recent lawsuit.”
Guy Forchion, executive director of the Virginia Key Beach Park Trust, did not respond to a request for comment.
Requests for comment from Miami City Attorney Victoria Mendez and Assistant City Attorney Xavier Alban also were not returned.