After refusing to refund ticketholders for its cancelled event, Miami’s Ultra Music Festival has been hit with a class-action lawsuit.
The suit, which was filed on Tuesday at the U.S. District Court’s Southern District of Florida on behalf of all ticketholders, alleges that the music festival’s refund policy “damaged Plaintiffs and the Class in the amount that they paid for 2020 festival tickets.” Ticketholders of the suit are seeking damages and monetary relief and/or refunds for the full amount of their tickets.
In early March, Ultra became one of the first music festivals to call-off its event amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, amid the cancellation, Ultra informed ticketholders that their tickets would be valid for either Ultra Miami 2021 or 2022 – with no mention of refunds. Instead, festivalgoers were forced to choose between which Ultra Miami date they wanted to attend within a 30-day window — which was later extended as fans were unsure of their decision.
The music festival received harsh backlash after revealing its refund policy, but organizers pointed to its terms and conditions, which stated that the company can “issue purchaser full or partial refund” at its own discretion, issue a full or partial refund, and/or offer a comparable “make good.” Ultra tried to dub the cancellation as a “rescheduling,” though the suit is calling the provision an “unenforceable unilateral option contract.”
Joe Sauder of Sauder Schelkopf LLC has taken on the case, representing plaintiffs Samuel Hernandez and Richard Montoure. Hernandez, who bought six tickets for $3,000, inquired about a refund originally but was directed to email instructions to the deferral benefit. Montoure had also inquired about a cash refund but did not hear back and was later redirected to an email outlining how to redeem his tickets for future versions of the festival.
“We understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every part of the global economy but we do not believe that gives the Ultra Music Festival the right to shift the burden of this extraordinary crisis onto its customers, who, in some cases, paid hundreds of dollars to attend this festival and now the COVID-19 pandemic has or will preclude them from ever using any credit,” Sauder told Rolling Stone in a statement. “We look forward to seeking to recover cash refunds for our clients and the class members.”
Ultra ticketholders aren’t alone; class-action lawsuits have been popping-up across the country amid widespread cancellations due to the pandemic. Ticketmaster and Live Nation received complaints from fans for their refund policy, which originally only allowed refunds for cancelled events. Now, they’ve updated the policy to allow fans the opportunity to request a refund, but it must be done within a 30-day window of the postponement announcement.