May 16 (UPI) -- SeawWorld pass holders have sued the park over monthly fee collection while it is closed due to COVID-19.
Lawyers filed the class action complaint last week in San Diego federal court on behalf of annual pass holder Lisa Kouball and others similarly situated with claims expected to exceed $5 million.
Kouball, of San Diego County, purchased four annual passes to attend the Orlando, Fla.-based theme park for a total of $48.99 per month, according to the lawsuit. SeaWorld closed in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, but continued to charge Kouball the full monthly payment and did not provide any refund, according to the suit.
San Diego lawyer Ronald Marron filed the class action lawsuit representing annual pass holders nationwide and a subset of California annual pass holders against SeaWorld Orlando, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment.
The suit alleges the operator violated California's unfair competition law, which includes "untrue or misleading advertising," along with breach of contract and unjust enrichment.
"Defendant SeaWorld has made the unconscionable decision to keep charging its thousands of customers monthly membership fees while closing its amusement parks as the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, rages throughout the world and the United States economy has gone into a deep recession," the complaint states.
The company has continued to charge customers full price "without their consent" through automated EZ Pay using their debit and credit card information.
"Unlike, most of its competitors, defendant continued to charge its customers monthly membership fees -- at full price," the complaint states. "Defendant has made the deliberate decision to bilk its customers out of a monthly membership fee while its members do not have access to Defendant's amusement parks and water parks."
SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment said in a blog in March that it would extend all active annual passes for a period as long as the temporary closure. It also announced a furlough of thousands of employees in March due to the pandemic.