A Washington consumer claims in a proposed class action that Digital Media Academy Corp. (DMA) has wrongfully failed to refund customers after canceling summer 2020 day and overnight camps due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the July 9 breach of contract lawsuit, DMA informed parents that it would not be offering summer camps at most of its 11 locations this year. Although parents contacted the technology camp operator for refunds, DMA has refused to reimburse tuition and fees already paid for the camps, the lawsuit says.
Instead, the defendant has offered only credits to attend another DMA camp for next year “irrespective of whether members of the class are able to attend a DMA camp during 2021,” the case claims.
Digital Media Academy offers educational and training programs and camps at 11 colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada, including in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Washington, and Washington, D.C., according to the complaint, with summer camp tuition starting at roughly $1,000 per week per child. Per the suit, the defendant touts its camps as “the best place for students to get their start as designers, developers, programmers, engineers, animators, musicians, filmmakers, and creators.”
Amid the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, DMA informed parents throughout April and May that most of its 2020 summer camps would be canceled, noting in a May 1 post on its website that “[d]espite the fact that terms and conditions state that in case of acts of god or a health pandemic there will be no refund we have decided to provide full credit for summer 2021 for the entirety of a customer’s 2020 purchase,” the complaint says.
According to the case, DMA, despite the U.S. camp cancellations, has continued to make one of its Canadian camps available while promising a 100-percent refund in the event DMA or the institution at which the camp is held is forced to cancel due to COVID-19.
The defendant’s terms and conditions stated since August 2018 that in the event DMA cancels a program, participants may be enrolled in another, elaborating that “[i]f one is not available at the same Program location at a time that is convenient for Participant, a refund will be issued for all monies paid to DMA for the cancelled Program.”
According to the case, however, DMA revised its terms and conditions on June 15, 2020 to exclude from available refunds any classes that were canceled due to “an Act of God,” which the company says includes “earthquake, flood, war, government action, labor strike, severe weather conditions, flu pandemic, government legislation, civil disorder, terrorist acts or other acts of god.”
The plaintiff says she paid approximately $1,444 to DMA in February for her daughter to attend a one-week summer camp at the University of Washington from August 3 to August 7. Given registration forms were not yet available at the time the plaintiff paid her daughter’s tuition, she was not apprised of the terms and conditions governing her purchase, the suit alleges.
Per the complaint, the plaintiff received in May 2020 an email from DMA that stated her daughter’s summer camp had been canceled and that her payment for this year’s “postponed” event would instead be credited toward a camp to take place in 2021.
The plaintiff charges that although DMA has offered access to online courses along with the credit, her daughter is unable to participate in such due to a disability for which she has both an Individualized Educational Plan and a plan under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
The lawsuit mentions the plaintiff is unsure whether she plans to send her daughter to a DMA summer camp in 2021. After emailing DMA to ask for a full refund, the plaintiff’s request was denied, the suit says.
“As of the filing of this Complaint, [the plaintiff] has not received a refund for her DMA camp tuition and fee payment,” the complaint reads.
The lawsuit looks to cover anyone who paid tuition to DMA for its 2020 camps, or alternatively, only Washington residents who paid such.
ClassAction.org’s coverage of COVID-19 litigation can be found here and over on our Newswire.