Spartan Race Inc. has been hit with a proposed class action in which a Florida man claims the obstacle course event organizer operates a “deceptive and unfair” insurance scheme that forces racers to pay $14 for “nearly-worthless insurance that only costs a fraction of that amount.”
According to the 13-page lawsuit, Spartan requires that participants buy the insurance coverage even though it’s “secondary,” meaning that the racer would still have to go through their own insurer to seek coverage for any medical expenses. The lawsuit charges that by forcing its “insurance scheme” upon participants, Spartan Race has created for itself a secret revenue stream through which it pulls in millions each year, in violation of Florida and common law.
“Unfortunately, Spartan has not been satisfied to simply collect tens of millions of dollars annually in registration, sponsorship and corporate fees,” the suit states.
Spartan Race? Sounds exhausting.
Spartan Race Inc. is one of the world’s largest obstacle course race organizers. Each year, tens of thousands of people nationwide pay to participate in any number of endurance-testing, obstacle-laden Spartan events in the U.S. and around the world, the suit says, with races ranging from as short as three miles to marathon distances peppered with barriers for participants to overcome.
To participate in a Spartan event, a racer must pay a registration fee of usually around $100 along with fees for “parking services, bag check and merchandise discount,” according to the case. Participants must also pay at the time of registration a mandatory racer insurance fee, a charge that ostensibly repays Spartan for its purchase of “participant accidental medical insurance” that the company says provides “limited coverage” for injuries a racer may suffer during an event.
“Objectively likely to mislead any reasonable consumer,” suit says
As the lawsuit tells it, Spartan’s race insurance fee is no more than an undisclosed source of profit for the company. Given that the charge is represented as a separate line item on a race invoice—whereas charges for parking services, bag check and merchandise discount are all bundled into one fee—racers are led to believe the fee is simply collected by Spartan and passed on to a third-party insurer, the complaint claims. Moreover, Spartan’s marketing materials go even further in creating what the suit describes as “the net impression” that the defendant is merely the middleman between racers and an insurance provider.
In truth, the plaintiff alleges, Spartan pulls in “massive profit” by charging and pocketing some of the $14 it levies for effectively useless insurance coverage despite being neither an insurer nor registered as such in Florida.
“On information and belief,” the lawsuit says, “Spartan pockets the overcharge as additional profit and conceals this fact from consumers. Spartan’s records will demonstrate the exact amount it retains for each insurance fee charged.”
At its core, Spartan’s “kickback scheme” amounts to “unlawful profiteering, deceit, and self-dealing,” the lawsuit alleges, with the company unjustly enriching itself at the expense of race participants who are “likely to be misled” by the company’s conduct.
Who does this lawsuit look to cover?
The lawsuit, which alleges primarily violations of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, proposes to cover both a nationwide class and a Florida-only subclass of those who paid Spartan’s “racer insurance fee” in connection with any Spartan-organized race during the applicable limitations period.
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