US R&B artist Flo Rida has won an appeal against Fat As Butter festival promoters Mothership Music and will now no-longer be forced to pay over $400,000 in damages.
Flo Rida – real name Tramar Dillard – didn’t show up to the Fat As Butter festival in 2011, cancelling minutes before he was set to go on stage, after which Mothership Music sued both Dillard and his management VIP Entertainment and Concepts, through the New South Wales District Court to the tune of $417,345.
These damages were said to incorporate loss of revenue (reported loss of sponsorship and struggling ticket sales for the 2012 event), the cost of flights and vehicles, and court costs, on top of the $55,000 performance fee he had accepted.
Dillard and his management did not appear in New South Wales District Court for the August 2012 hearing and were ordered to pay $417,345 in damages, but today, Flo Rida won his appeal against the decision, the court agreeing with his claims that Facebook was an unsuitable avenue through which to issue a summons.
Mothership issued the summons via email and Facebook after Judge Philip Taylor ordered it to be appropriate at the time, due to Dillard being in New South Wales for the Supafest festival at the time of the summons. The following month saw Dillard argued the validity of the summons, claiming Facebook was an unacceptable avenue through which to serve.
The case was taken to the New South Wales Court Of Appeal in June of this year, where Dillard’s lawyer Nick Furlan said the artist may not have been in the state when the summons was issued and, this, it was invalid.
Today, the court agreed that there was not sufficient evidence that the artist was in New South Wales.
“According to the evidence, Flo Rida was in New South Wales on 12 April 2012 and in Victoria on 14 April 2012, and was likely to be returning to the United States on or soon after 19 April 2012 (see  and  above),” Justice Robert Macfarlan said. “The evidence thus suggested that Flo Rida was in Australia when the order for substituted service was made on 18 April 2012 but did not show whether he was then in New South Wales or elsewhere in Australia.”
In conclusion, Justice Macfarlan said there was no reason to believe that Flo Rida would even receive the Facebook post in a timely manner.
“The evidence did not establish, other than by mere assertion, that the Facebook page was in fact that of Flo Rida and did not prove that a posting on it was likely to come to his attention in a timely fashion.”
Today Flo Rida’s lawyer David Weinberger told theMusic.com.au, “Flo Rida is happy that the Court of Appeal has set aside the judgment that was made in his absence. He looks forward to performing in front of his Australian fans in the near future, and thanks all of his fans Down Under for their past, ongoing and future support. For him, it is all about the music.”