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Former Jazz Fest Foundation presidents will not receive tickets, passes, perks, judge rules

Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 5:16 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 21, 2022 at 11:23 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - For the first time in three years, vendors will set up stages and food booths for Jazz Fest. But beneath the surface, there is a legal storm brewing, brought on by two past presidents who are fighting to keep thousands of dollars in perks - including dozens of tickets, special parking passes, and backstage access.

On Thurs., April 21, a state appeals court ruled that the former presidents would not receive those perks, reversing a lower court ruling.

The perks include 70 free Jazz Fest tickets, the option to buy 100 additional tickets at half price, backstage passes, parking passes, and discounted posters. The board of the foundation voted to do away with those perks three years ago.

Despite claims that past presidents Michael Bagneris and Demetric Mercadel would suffer “irreparable harm,” the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found that they have not “demonstrated anything more than inconvenience.”

“Were these two individuals irreparably injured for not receiving free tickets or access to the stage, really? I don’t believe it,” said Tulane legal expert Joel Friedman.

“I just don’t think it’s right. Too many people are getting away with things they shouldn’t be getting away with these days,” said Larry Wessel of New Orleans.

The court ruled that former presidents would still be able to park elsewhere, attend Jazz Fest, and view the performances from a different vantage point.

As he prepares for another festival, Davis declined to comment.

“We’re not really part of the foundation and their policies. We are the festival doers,” said Davis.

“It’s very disappointing that people of this stature would be grabbing onto the silly little perk which, by the way, is taxable income, which should have to be reported on their tax returns,” said Friedman.

We reached out to Bagneris for comment but not have not heard back.

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