Class action lawsuit filed against Dorney Park owner over COVID closures
Passholders for Cedar Fair amusement parks, which include Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom, are seeking a class action lawsuit regarding passes for the 2020 season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A representative for Cedar Fair declined to comment this week to lehighvalleylive.com, citing ongoing litigation, after a judge ruled the lawsuit could continue.
Cedar Fair has 15 amusement parks, including Dorney in South Whitehall Township and Cedar Point and Kings Island in Ohio. Park seasons typically last 130 to 140 days, according to court documents, opening weekends beginning in April or May, then daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
At Dorney Park, the season extends into October for its annual Halloween Haunt.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, the Ohio-based company initially closed all of its parks. Some parks, including California’s Great America, Valleyfair and Canada’s Wonderland, allegedly never opened that year.
Those that did open, like Dorney, were closed for a significant part of the season with restrictions including capacity limits, mandatory reservations and restricted access to rides and attractions, the lawsuit says.
Dorney Park cut short the 2020 season, closing after Sept. 7, but said season tickets for this year would be extended through the following 2021 season.
Ticket and season pass sales are final and there are no refunds or transfers. When Cedar Fair refused to return a portion of the season ticket fee, season ticket holders filed a lawsuit in September 2020 in federal court in Ohio.
This week, the federal judge in Ohio denied Cedar Fair’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit — for now.
The question is whether Cedar Fair’s advertising would have led a reasonable consumer to believe that if the company could not provide a substantial portion of the unlimited tours promised to season pass holders, it would refund a portion of the price of purchase of subscriptions, US District Court Judge James Carr wrote.
Cedar Fair knew that an event of force majeure, or “act of God,” could eventually force its parks to close for part or all of a season, Carr wrote, but plaintiffs say that clause was not in it. not in the terms and conditions of the company websites. , and they did not know that customers would bear the financial consequences.
“While proving that this is the case may well be difficult for the plaintiffs, at this stage I believe they have properly made a claim for relief … to survive the dismissal,” the judge said.
The group of plaintiffs is represented by the law firm Dovel and Luner, which is seeking individuals seeking reimbursement for a pass for the 2020 season. More information can be found at dovel.com.
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Sarah Cassi can be reached at [email protected].