Most athletes had an agreement that specifically prohibited them from requesting refunds.
A federal judge has joined the Ironman group, stating that the triathlon organizer does not owe a refund to athletes who were unable to compete due to cancellations of coronavirus-related events and venue closings.
According to the triathlete, the lawsuit was filed against Ironman in May. While the complaint initially had only one supporter – a Colorado resident who signed up for an event in San Francisco – it grew quickly, and attorneys found that more people had lost money to cancellations.
The main demand of the lawsuit, however, remained simple: reward.
The prospective class action lawsuit had demanded that Ironman reimburse anyone whose event was canceled or postponed due to COVID.
In a lawsuit, attorneys said Iron Man was essentially trying to get their clients to accept the financial consequences of a pandemic that is beyond everyone’s control.
“The defendants should not be allowed to force the plaintiff and members of the class to bear the financial burden of the events canceled due to COVID-19,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit also alleged that Ironman showed little sympathy or care for plaintiffs’ concerns, lost time, and shook investments.
A triathlete is running. Image via Wikimedia Commons / User: Peter van der Sluijs. (CCA-1-> 3.0).
“The defendants’ refusal to offer refunds to the plaintiff and members of the class is merely a maneuver by the defendants to maintain sales and profits, regardless of whether paying customers can actually attend and attend rescheduled or postponed events,” said it.
However, the Ironman Group’s attorneys found that almost every athlete covered by the class action lawsuit had signed rigid agreements confirming that they could not get or request a refund.
That argument was enough for US District Judge Tom Barber, who said that competitors necessarily had agreed to a clear-cut clause.
“This is a very simple case,” Barber wrote in his decision. “No refund means exactly what it says – no refund.”
Barber said non-refund clauses, including Ironman’s, were “fair and consistent with common sense.” In his decision, Barber believed that organizers of races and events like Ironman would likely go out of business if they were forced to issue refunds or if cancellations were made for reasons beyond their control.
The triathlete notes that when athletes register for an event, they are usually required to sign a series of waivers, terms and confirmations. And it is common, says Triathlete, for such documents to include a provision stating that potential competitors will not seek a refund if an event is canceled due to something called force majeure.
Most members of the class, Triathlete adds, would likely have been given the opportunity to register for future races without having to pay back the registration fees.
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