DENVER (CBS4) – Attorneys for a man whose family vacation was interrupted by Colorado ski areas closing in the early stages of coronavirus pandemic filed a class action lawsuit Friday in Denver federal court. The lawsuit seeks compensation from Vail Resorts for ski pass money that were not refunded.
Dylan Clarke, an out-of-state skier represented by Colorado attorney Craig Valentine, planned a mountain vacation with his parents, sister, and children during the week of March 16. Members of his group planned to ski at the Breckenridge and Keystone resorts using the Epic pass.
The Epic Pass is a pre-paid card. Full payment allows users unlimited skiing for the entire ski season. In the case of the 2019-20 ski season, the card was good from October 15 to April 15.
Vail Resorts, which owns both ski areas along with Vail and Beaver Creek, announced a week-long closure on March 14th due to coronavirus concerns. Colorado’s governor passed an executive order that night asking all of the state’s ski resorts to follow suit.
The state had 100 cases and one death attributed to COVID-19 at that time.
Three days later, Breckenridge operators said its resort would close for the remainder of the season.
Clarke’s family members were not able to ski due to the closures. The lawsuit claims Vail Resorts has breached its contract with customers by not offering refunds.
“To date, Defendant has not refunded any consumers for their lost mountain resort access,” the complaint states. “Rather, for annual pass-holders, Defendant has simply deferred all auto-renewal charges and spring deadlines (for those people that did not pre-pay for the entire season). Further, for Epic Day Pass customers, Defendant has explicitly stated that, despite Defendant’s closures, the passes are ‘non-refundable and non-transferable to another season.’ Accordingly, customers who did not have a chance to use all of their purchased passes under the Epic Day Pass program get zero consideration or compensation for their inability to use those unused, purchased days, even if they wanted to.”
The lawsuit claims the total funds lost by skiers from across the country – now potential fellow litigants – will be in excess of $5 million.
Vail Resorts spokesman Ryan Huff said the company would not comment on pending litigation. But he did provid CBS4 a letter that was sent to cardholders on March 25th.
Over the last couple of weeks, we have seen the world take numerous measures in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. For Vail Resorts, that has meant closing all 34 of our North American resorts. That difficult decision was necessary in order to prioritize the health and wellbeing of our employees, our communities and our guests. Since then, our focus has been on supporting guests and employees in returning home, ensuring the safety of everyone staying in our resorts, transitioning all of our corporate services to “work from home,” and now, today, closing our call center due to stay-at-home orders.
In the midst of all of this, I want you to know that we have not forgotten about you, our pass holders. I have read your emails and comments on social media. I completely understand your frustrations and your concerns about this past season.
We deeply value the loyalty you have placed with us by purchasing one of our pass products and we are committed to identifying an approach that acknowledges this past season and retains your loyalty for the future. I ask for your continued patience and understanding as we remain focused on the real-time challenges that COVID-19 is currently presenting to our employees, our communities and our company. And with many different pass products, we want to ensure that any action takes into consideration all of our pass holders.
We intend to reach back out to you with more information by the end of April. In the meantime, we are deferring all auto-renew charges and all spring deadlines for Buddy Tickets into May.
We sincerely hope that all of you, your friends and your loved ones remain safe during this unprecedented time and that the world comes together to move past the challenges we currently face.
EVP and Chief Marketing Officer
No trial date has been set for the lawsuit.
Vail Resorts is currently selling its 20-21 ski season Epic Pass online. The adult price is $979.
Copper Mountain, Winter Park and Arapahoe Basin resorts are facing a similar lawsuit from users of the Ikon ski pass.