Canada

Formula E: Organizers ‘intentionally’ failed to host event, class-action claims

“It’s a head-scratcher as to why we’re in the situation we’re in now,” says Richard Chang, the lawyer behind proposed class action lawsuit against Vancouver Formula E organizers.

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The organizers of Vancouver’s cancelled Formula E car racing event collected ticket money despite “intentionally failing to host the Canadian E-Fest,” a new civil lawsuit alleges.

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The proposed class-action lawsuit was filed this week in B.C. Supreme Court on behalf of customers who bought tickets for the Canadian E-Fest, which was scheduled to be a three-day festival in Vancouver and was to include a Formula E electric car race on Canada Day this year. Two companies are named as defendants: OSS Group, the organizers and promoters of the Canadian E-Fest, and ATPI Travel and Events Canada, the Quebec-based ticketing company for the event.

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Before the Canadian E-Fest was cancelled in April, OSS representatives told Postmedia they had sold more than 33,000 tickets. After the inaugural Vancouver Formula E event was called off, OSS Group initially announced that refunds would be processed in June, and then July, and later stopped answering questions from reporters and customers. Several ticket-buyers have continued to contact Postmedia to express frustration at being out of pocket hundreds of dollars each.

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“Given that it was such a highly publicized event … it’s a head-scratcher as to why we’re in the situation we’re in now,” said Richard Chang, the Vancouver lawyer behind the proposed class-action lawsuit.

The three initial plaintiffs named in the lawsuit, known as “representative plaintiffs,” spent between $420 and $1,365 each on tickets for Canadian E-Fest, and have been unable to get refunds despite contacting their banks and credit card companies, as well as the ticketing agency, court documents allege.

The suit makes allegations of fraudulent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment against the defendants. The claim was filed on Tuesday, and neither of the defendant companies have responded yet in court. The claims have not been proven.

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Mitch Evans pilots his Jaguar I-TYPE during the 2019 New York City ePrix in Brooklyn with the Manhattan skyline in the background.
Mitch Evans pilots his Jaguar I-TYPE during the 2019 New York City ePrix in Brooklyn with the Manhattan skyline in the background. Photo by LAT Images

The notice of civil claim alleges the defendants breached their contract with ticket-buyers by “intentionally failing to disclose” that the required permits for construction and operation of the E-Fest had never been obtained, and organizers “never intended to host the Canadian E-Fest.” The court filings claim the defendants breached the duties they owed to customers by “intentionally planning, at all material times, to collect payment for passes, but intentionally failing to host the Canadian E-Fest.”

Chang says has heard so far from “a few dozen” ticket-buyers interested in joining the class-action suit, he said, including one purchaser who spent $90,000 on a hospitality suite. Other ticket-buyers can also join the action if it proceeds, he said.

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ATPI did not immediately reply to a request for comment Wednesday.

Last month, ATPI filed its own lawsuit in Quebec Superior Court against OSS Group, requesting the court order OSS pay $2,789,539 to be used to refund customers.

At that time, ATPI issued a statement which said: “We want to make it clear that the OSS Group has the sole responsibility with respect to the refund process. … However, despite being clearly and contractually required to do so, the OSS Group has not returned the ticket sale proceeds for ATPI to process the ticket refunds.”

Chang said he will monitor the progress of ATPI’s suit in Quebec, and “if ATPI is successful, then there’s really no need for me to push this through, because they’ve indicated their intent, from my understanding, is to issue refunds.”

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“Now, if that doesn’t go anywhere, then obviously I’m going to start ramping things up on my end,” Chang said. “If there’s no success with the ATPI action, our goal here is to ensure that the people who have been impacted are made whole, as fast as we can.”

OSS Group did not reply Wednesday to questions about the September ATPI lawsuit or this week’s proposed class-action.

Chang said any other E-Fest ticket-buyers interested in being added to the proposed class-action lawsuit can contact his office at 1-800-567-4878.

“If there are still people who are out of pocket, we’ll put them on the list.”

[email protected]

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