Key Biscayne

Federal judge dismisses anti-trust suit against Ultra Music Festival for the last time

Ultra Music Festival 2018 - Day 3

Scenes from the third - and last - day at the Ultra Music Festival Sunday, March 25, 2018, at Bayfront Park in Miami.
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Scenes from the third - and last - day at the Ultra Music Festival Sunday, March 25, 2018, at Bayfront Park in Miami.

For the second and final time, a federal judge has tossed a lawsuit against Ultra Music Festival brought by the smaller event it displaced off Virginia Key, Rapture Electronic Music Festival.

Rapture sued Ultra and the city of Miami, alleging organizers of the electronic dance music event and city officials conspired to violate anti-trust laws when they negotiated a licensing agreement for Ultra to stage its three-day concert on Virginia Key — even though Rapture had been scheduled for the same weekend, March 29-31.

On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro issued a 15-page order roundly rejecting Rapture organizers’ argument that Ultra and the city violated the Sherman Anti-Trust act.

“The Sherman Act claims, in particular, are not proper claims for the facts alleged,” Ungaro wrote. “They are, simply put, baseless.”

Friday’s dismissal was the second time Ungaro thew out Rapture’s suit. The first time, she gave the festival organizers one chance to revise their lawsuit in order to clearly state a claim.

“On February 12, Rapture filed the amended complaint, and it comes no closer to stating a claim than the first did,” Ungaro wrote. “Rapture’s amended complaint is little more than a list of reasons why Rapture thinks the Ultra music festival is no good.”

Rapture’s owners said they plan on appealing.

“We are disappointed by the court’s ruling and will consider our options, including appeal and state court case filling,” said attorney Paul K. Silverberg.

Ultra’s attorney, Scott Ponce, said in a statement that the result was fantastic for Ultra.

“The court found that the claims were due to be dismissed because they were baseless — a point that the court drilled home in 15 pages of excruciating detail, from noting that the lawsuit did not and could not allege the necessary facts, to finding that portions of the complaint were so poorly written that they were unintelligible,” Ponce said. “Ultra looks forward to welcoming festival-goers to Virginia Key on March 29, 30 and 31, 2019.”

Ultra moved to Virginia Key after Miami commissioners approved a licensing agreement for the event to move to the island for at least one year after being ousted from its longtime home in Bayfront Park in September.

Miami Herald staff writer Alex Harris contributed to this report.
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Joey Flechas covers government and public affairs in the city of Miami for the Herald, ranging from votes at City Hall to neighborhood news. He won a Sunshine State award for revealing a Miami Beach political candidate’s ties to an illegal campaign donation. He attended the University of Florida.


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