The Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro, has filed a lawsuit against an event organizer for allegedly failing to issue ticket refunds from a planned comic convention that was originally scheduled for April of 2020 in Pennsylvania. According to the lawsuit, the Great Philadelphia Comic Con was originally scheduled for the spring of 2020, then postponed to the fall of that year, and finally to the spring of 2021 – but no event has taken place, and no money has been returned.
As Attorney General Shapiro stated in a statement announcing the lawsuit against the city of Chicago over the lack of ticket refunds, “COVID-related cancellations can’t be used as an excuse for businesses to simply walk away with consumers’ money.” That sort of behavior is simply not acceptable, as I’ve stated repeatedly since the outbreak began. With this lawsuit, we hope to protect consumers by ensuring that they do not become victims of a different type of scam.”
It is claimed in the lawsuit, which was filed last week in the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, that Great Conventions LLC and its owner Christopher Wertz violated consumer protection laws by canceling their event but keeping the money collected from attendees.
Wertz and Great Conventions organized The Great Philadelphia Comic Con to be held at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Pa.from April 3-5, 2020. After repeatedly rescheduling the event due to COVID-19 restrictions, defendants effectively cancelled the event in March 2021. Since then, Great Conventions LLC and Wertz have ignored multiple requests from ticket holders for refunds. They made no effort to either reschedule the convention or give consumers their money back.
When Shapiro filed his lawsuit, he requested that the court order Great Conventions LLC and Wertz to pay restitution for tickets that were not refunded and to pay civil penalties of $1,000 for each ticket refund that was withheld (and $3,000 per violation for consumers over 60). It also seeks a permanent injunction against the company and its owner from conducting business or selling tickets in the state of New York.
Consumer ticket refunds have become a major source of debate in the wake of the COVID-19 conference, as the event landscape has changed dramatically. Because of the ongoing restrictions on public gatherings, many consumers and state officials have filed lawsuits against event organizers, accusing them of changing policies or withholding refunds as event dates have been pushed back further and further in advance.
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