Ohio Supreme Court rules against refunds for Cedar Fair pass holders for shortened 2020 season
A unanimous Ohio Supreme Court ruling said Cedar Point didn’t violate the terms that season pass holders agreed to when the park had to shutdown in 2020 because of COVID-19. The ruling means the pass holders can’t sue for refunds over the two months the park wasn’t open.
Ohio’s largest amusement parks, Cedar Point and Kings Island, are both owned by Cedar Fair. The state’s COVID-19 lockdown prevented the parks from opening on schedule in May 2020, though season passes had been sold.
David Hudson, Cedar Fair attorney, told the justices in May that season pass holders agree that the parks’ dates and hours of operation can change without notice and that there are no refunds. Hudson added that the park did open in July.
“We had a season. People disagree as to whether or not it was long enough or whether it should have had more days. But we had a season. So there was consideration in that transaction," Hudson said.
During those oral arguments in May, Nicole Fiorelli, representing the season pass holders, said the word “season” is unfairly ambiguous, and it doesn’t matter whether the park or the state ordered the delay.
“Breach of contract doesn’t look at whose fault it was or whether there was good faith. The fact is, she contracted for these two months, and she was not provided those two months," Fiorelli said, speaking on behalf of Laura Valentine who filed the class action lawsuit.
Fiorelli said since their passes guaranteed access in 2020, giving passes for 2021 isn’t a remedy, and that the resolution is refunds.
Justice Sharon Kennedy wrote for the unanimous court that Valentine, didn’t have a valid claim of breach of contract or unjust enrichment against Cedar Fair.
In the ruling, Kennedy acknowledged the language Hudson referred to in the contract and said it was clear the park had to shut down because of the state government mandate in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Cedar Fair opened Cedar Point to season pass holders in July 2020, after the government-mandated shutdown was lifted. We conclude that Cedar Fair’s delay in opening its parks to season pass holders does not, by itself, establish a claim for breach of contract or for unjust enrichment," Kennedy wrote.
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