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Ultra Music Festival sued again over postponement claims and refund policies

By | Published on Wednesday 7 April 2021

Ultra Miami

The promoter of the flagship edition of the Ultra Music Festival in Miami is facing another lawsuit over its refund policies in relation to the events it has cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ultra was one of the first major festivals to cancel as the COVID-19 pandemic gained momentum in early 2020. The event’s promoter was subsequently criticised, and then sued, over its official line that the 2020 festival was actually being postponed into 2021.

This position meant that cash refunds were not being offered to ticketholders, who instead could opt to transfer their tickets to either the 2021 or 2022 editions of the event.

Of course, as it turns out, the 2021 edition wasn’t able to go ahead either, meaning ticketholders are now being offered the option to transfer their tickets to either the 2022 or 2023 editions.

The latest lawsuit, like earlier litigation, takes issue with Ultra’s claim that it postponed rather than cancelled its 2020 edition, and its resulting refusal to offer cash refunds. The new legal filing also notes that promoter Event Entertainment Group is itself suing a production company in a bid to reclaim monies it had already paid for equipment hire and services relating to its 2020 festival, on the basis that the festival was cancelled.

Elsewhere in the new lawsuit, lawyers criticise terms that ticketholders were obliged to sign up to when transferring their tickets to future events.

These, it says, were “radically different from the already illusory ones attached to the original ticket purchase and … among other things, required the ticketholders to release any and all legal claims against Ultra, waive their rights to initiate credit card chargebacks, and agree to pay significant costs in the event of any arbitration (in volition of American Arbitration Association’s consumer arbitration rules)”.

The new lawsuit – which names Ultra ticketholder Gabriella Petroka as plaintiff but seeks class action status – also names the City Of Miami as a defendant. Lawyer Marcus Corwin told the Miami Herald: “It is totally unconscionable for the promoters to withhold refunds for two plus years, and for the City Of Miami to allow it, with no guarantees that this event will be able to take place in 2022 or 2023”.

He added: “The goal is to convince the City Of Miami … to no longer participate with [Ultra] and take some action, whether it be in their licence agreement or business agreements with them, to get [ticketholders] relief”.