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Ultra Music Festival's 2019 Edition Hangs in Balance in Miami Courtroom

Ultra Music Festival in Miami.

Ultra Music Festival in Miami. Photo: Anosov1505 via Wikimedia Commons

Ultra Music Festival's 2019 show might face its final obstacle Friday in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Rodolfo Ruiz is scheduled hear the Brickell Homeowners Association and Miami resident Christopher Mullin's case against the city of Miami over Ultra's use of Virginia Key as a venue.

According to the plaintiffs attorney, Miami litigator David Winker, the city flouted its own laws in order to shorten the process by which public property is granted for private use.

"Miami officials want to have a lease, but they’re calling it a license because a lease requires competitive bidding," Winker said.

The office of Miami City Attorney Victoria Mendez declined to comment, citing a policy of not commenting on pending litigation.

In an emergency motion for temporary injunction, the plaintiffs allege the city misrepresented its agreement with Ultra to circumvent time-consuming bureaucratic procedures and limit the time in which concerned citizens could speak out against the deal.

Winker characterized the situation as "what happens when a city goes rogue" and claimed that just two weeks out from the festival, Miami officials and Ultra have yet to announce firm details about how they will transport revelers from Virginia Key.

"We don’t have any assurances the city is enforcing the agreement," Winker said. "This case is about more than environmentally sensitive Virginia Key being a completely inappropriate venue for Ultra. It’s about residents having the right to be governed by the rule of law."

The plaintiffs' March 10 motion for a temporary injunction contends they "are not asking the court for an injunction preventing Ultra from conducting a concert on Virginia Key on the scheduled dates," or "asking the court to force the City of Miami to competitively bid a lease with Ultra," per the city charter.

Read the emergency motion for temporary injunction: 

"Rather, plaintiffs are requesting the court to enter a temporary prohibitory injunction enjoining the city of Miami from utilizing the license agreement in its present form to make Virginia Key available to Ultra," the filing reads. "Plaintiffs do not ask for this extraordinary equitable remedy lightly, but are compelled to do so to preserve the status quo because the license agreement is so clearly a lease, and not a license under established Florida law."

Although it was not named in the suit, Ultra responded by filing a motion to be added as a defendant or, alternatively, to intervene. The company contended since it "has the requisite interest in the subject matter" of the suit, it "must be made a party to this action."

"There can be no real dispute that a final adjudication of plaintiffs’ cause of action for declaratory relief will affect Ultra’s interest, and that any such resolution would be inequitable if Ultra is not permitted to participate as a party in the defense of this action," the motion said, calling Ultra "an indispensable party" to the case.

Scott Ponce, the Holland & Knight attorney who filed Ultra's motion, did not respond to requests for comment. Sandy York and Michael Gaid, Ultra’s in-house legal counsel, also did not respond by deadline.

U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro on Feb. 15 dismissed an anti-trust lawsuit that concert organizer Rapture Electronic Music Festival filed against Ultra over competing events scheduled for the same days on Virginia Key.

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