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Ironman gets win in COVID-19 refund lawsuit

"No refunds means no refunds"

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

According to a report posted on Law360 yesterday, a judge has tossed out a proposed class action lawsuit against Ironman over it’s “no refunds” policy.

US District Judge Tom Barber  found that the two lead plaintiffs in the case, Mikaela Ellenwood from Denver, Col., and Jorge Casanova from Vallejo, Calif. had signed “contracts” – the waivers they signed with their entries “clearly and unambiguosly state that there will be ‘no refunds,'” Judge Barber writes in his order.

Related: Ironman athletes lash out over lack of refunds

“This is a very simple case,” Judge Barber continues. “’No refunds’ means exactly what it says — no refunds. Florida law is clear that courts are not permitted to “rewrite a contract or interfere with the freedom of contract or substitute their judgment for that of the parties thereto in order to relieve one of the parties from the apparent hardship of an improvident bargain.”

You can read the full order here.

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Barber shot down the argument that the contracts “lack mutuality,” too.

“Here, mutuality of obligation clearly exists,” Barber wrote. “Plaintiffs had to pay money and Defendants had to facilitate a race, assuming they could do so in the absence of events beyond their control. Defendants were not free to cancel the races and keep the entrants’ money just because they felt like it. Rather, the contracts included a series of contingencies beyond Defendants’ control that could result in cancellation. In this context, a “no refund” provision is fair and makes perfect sense when considering the many contingencies beyond the organizers’ control that could occur in connection with an outdoor sporting event. Separate and apart from something like a pandemic, a wide variety of contingencies completely outside the Defendants’ control could make it impossible to hold a race. Inclement weather is just one obvious example. In this context, a “no refund” provision for contingencies outside of Defendants’ control does not render the contract illusory.”

Barber also ruled against other arguments brought forward by Ellenwood and Casanova’s attorneys, ruling that the contract was not “substantively unconsionable” nor that the suit met the requirements for the “Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.”