In Court, Olympic Ticket Seller Calls Refund Lawsuit a ‘Shakedown’

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Facing a class action lawsuit over its refusal to fully refund Tokyo Olympic packages, CoSport, the exclusive U.S. reseller of Olympic tickets and hospitality, accused the plaintiffs on Wednesday of trying to “take advantage of and extort its good faith efforts.”

In a motion filed in federal court seeking to dismiss the action by five CoSport customers, the company says that it had already provided more than $23 million of cash refunds for Tokyo-related tickets and hospitality expenditures and that it planned to provide $9 million more “in the coming weeks and months.”

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The lawsuit, accusing CoSport of breach of contract and fraud, was filed in April by Susan Caruso, a Texas woman and “avid supporter of the U.S. Olympic Team.” According to the complaint, Caruso spent $16,375 to purchase CoSport’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games SS Package, which included tickets to multiple sporting events and a five-night hotel stay.

On March 20, the Japanese government announced that, due to rising COVID-19 cases in the country, international spectators would be banned from attending the Games. Two-and-a-half weeks later, CoSport informed its customers that they would be eligible for refunds worth up to 75% of the cost of the packages they purchased.

Earlier this month, Sportico reported that Tokyo’s state of emergency could cost Olympic reinsurers up to $400 million to cover payouts for ticket and hospitality refunds.

CoSport says that its customers were fully apprised of the refunds they would be entitled to in the event of a cancellation, and that the plaintiffs all agreed to those terms. According to the plaintiffs, who are seeking full refunds, CoSport deceived them over the nature of the refund process in a manner that contravened a consumer fraud statute in New Jersey, where the company is headquartered.

CoSport, meanwhile, says that it is being subject to a “shakedown” based on a “malicious accusation” that it has profited from the course of events.

“CoSport did not make an untold windfall on the Olympic Games,” the company wrote in its motion to dismiss. “Rather, absent any legal obligation to do so, CoSport reached into its own pocket and guaranteed its customers refunds they were otherwise unlikely to receive. Plaintiffs call that unlawful conduct and fraud. It is not.”

The company further insisted that it “did not stand idly by” when news first emerged that Japan might close its doors to foreign spectators. Rather, the brief states, CoSport “acted swiftly to protect its customers, including those who ignored its recommendation to purchase travel insurance.” The company also says it lobbied both the Japanese government and “Olympic-related decision makers” to fully reimburse those who had purchased tickets or rented accommodations.

“Unfortunately,” the brief said, “CoSport’s efforts were not entirely successful.”

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