A Los Angeles judge has thrown out a civil lawsuit aimed at rave promoters initiated by groups within city government. In late 2011, the Coliseum Commission sued Insomniac founder Pasquale Rotella (the man behind Electric Daisy Carnival) and Go Ventures main brain Reza Gerami (Together as One) for civil conspiracy, fraud, unfair business practices, and shady accounting regarding their alleged involvement with a kickback scheme benefiting former Coliseum events manager Todd DeStefano.
L.A. Superior Court Judge Terry A. Green ruled that the plaintiffs had failed to prove that such a conspiracy existed. “I don’t see a shared intent to do a civil wrong in this case. I just think it’s a square peg in a round hole,” he said according to Law360, also adding, “I’m just really skeptical.” When the commission’s lawyer pointed to contracts supposedly detailing questionable side deals, Green asked, “Have you ever seen a group of conspirators write out in a legal document what their conspiracy is?”
Insomniac’s public trouble began after EDC 2010, which took place at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. That year, an underage attendee died in an area hospital after attending the festival. Following that, city government seemed split into two groups: those who wanted EDC out (drug stigma, security concerns) and those who wanted EDC to stay (cultural boon, revenue stream). Many of the challenges facing the massive rave were detailed in SPIN’s “Dance Music Industry Fights for Its Rights.”
The lawsuit was filed in November 2011. In April of last year Rotella, Gerami, DeStefano, and two other city employees were criminally indicted on 29 counts of bribery, conspiracy, embezzlement, and conflict of interest. Former Coliseum general manager Patrick Lynch pled guilty to conflict of interest, but the defendants otherwise maintain their innocence. That case is ongoing. Meanwhile, the city has until July 31 to amend its lawsuit, though chances are the civil case is dead in the water.
For a nuanced look at controversy surrounding the business of raves, revisit Philip Sherburne’s February piece about Rotella’s plea for PLUR where festival deaths are concerned.