Rapper Flo Rida may have avoided being served with a damages claim during his recent shopping mall tour here in Australia, but in the 21st century there are many other ways for legal professionals to get in contact with you.
Including Facebook, which a judge in New South Wales has allowed to be used to serve the 32-year-old rapper after his entourage prevented lawyers serving him papers on behalf of Mothership Music, the promoters of Fat As Butter where Flo Rida was a no show last year.
According to News Limited, the main lawyer attached to the case for Mothership Music, Matthew Hourn, said that his team had attempted to serve Flo Rida multiple times during his recent Australian visit but his posse got in the way each time.
“Our process server tried arranging meetings with his agents and attended appearances in Melbourne – but due to his large entourage and security, we were unable to serve him personally,” he said. ”When we attempted to serve him in Melbourne, he was escorted quickly into one of two black minivans before service could be completed.”
A few weeks ago New South Wales Judge Judith Gibson ordered Flo Rida, real name Tramar Dillard, pay Mothership Music $80,000 including damages for failing to show up to the festival.
“We are seeking costs that we expended, out-of-pocket expenses including accommodation, vehicles and damage to our client’s business and goodwill,” Mothership Music attorney Stephanie Borg said. Mothership Music are also pursuing the rapper for the return of his performance fee, $55,000, which they paid well in advance.
No official explanation has been given by Flo Rida or his team as to why he never showed, but the promoters contend that he chucked a tantrum after a disagreement over accommodation in Sydney, something that Mothership Music had no control over.
The incident unfolded before promoter Brent Lean’s eyes just two hours before Flo Rida was due on stage at the festival, as Flo Rida’s tour manager rang Lean to say that the star would not be performing at the event.
“We basically got a call at 3:00pm saying Flo Rida had thrown a hissy fit, was not happy about his Sydney accommodation and had stormed off,” Lean said at the time.
“We were hanging on with great hope that he would perform, and went to great lengths to make contingency plans in the hope that he would show up late. However, the festival had to go on, so we delivered the news that Flo Rida would not be appearing as soon as we got word the he had definitely cancelled.”
“Fat As Butter had nothing to do with Flo Rida’s accommodation bookings in Sydney. We were only responsible for his transport to Newcastle, which we had arranged and had waiting for him, as agreed to. We fulfilled all of our obligations in regards to Flo Rida’s booking and appearance.”
The sudden disappearance of the festival’s headline act left organisers red faced, and left the more than 10,000 fans who had paid up to $120 a ticket high and dry.
The District Court has now imposed a freeze on any assets owned by Flo Rida in Australia to the value of $80,000, but the rapper continues to ignore the legal action – prompting the judge to give permission for Mothership Music to deliver a ”substituted service” order.
This unprecedented action allowed Mothership’s lawyers to serve Flo Rida via Facebook, bypassing the normal requirement that an order be served in person. The judge gave the order after Mothership’s lawyers provided evidence that he was a prolific social media user and therefore there was a high likelihood he would see anything sent to him via social media.
The claim was messaged to Flo Rida via a link on his official Facebook page, including a message from Mothership that they were ”seeking damages for breach of contract … (for) your non-appearance on 22 October 2011 at the ‘Fat as Butter’ Concert”.
“If you do not file a defence to these proceedings within 28 days of service, the court may enter judgment against you without any further notice to you,” it continued.
Using Facebook as a method of serving a lawsuit is a first for a damages case in New South Wales, and paves the way for future legal disputes to use similar methods.
As of yesterday, Flo Rida was yet to respond to the message, but lawyers for Mothership Music say they will claim more monetary damages the longer the dispute drags on.
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