Ill. Suit Says Six Flags Charged Fees Despite Virus Closures

By Celeste Bott
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Law360 (October 13, 2020, 6:25 PM EDT) -- Six Flags continued to charge hundreds of thousands of membership and season pass holders monthly fees even when its theme parks were shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a proposed class action in Illinois state court.

Named plaintiff Ryan Strassburger, a Chicago resident who holds a monthly Gold Plus membership with Six Flags, says in a complaint filed Oct. 8 that the theme park giant kept charging his credit card for the full amount of that membership between March 2020 and at least July 2020, when he could not use its parks, and has not refunded him any part of those fees.

"Unlike other companies, defendants continued charging their customers full-price monthly payments fees even though every park they own was closed through at least mid-May, and the vast majority of parks remain closed to this day," Strassburger said in the complaint, filed in Cook County Circuit Court. "Defendants are able to unilaterally charge their customers monthly fees without their consent, as they are in possession of their customers' debit and credit card information. Thus, defendants have made the deliberate decision to bilk their customers on a monthly basis as the country is effectively shut down."

Most Six Flags customers sign up for a monthly membership, in which they pay an initiation fee and then a set fee every month that ranges from $7.85 to $42 depending on the level of membership and other incentives, according to the lawsuit. Customers provide their credit card information and are automatically charged each month, the suit says.

"Plaintiff signed up for Defendants' month-to-month membership with the belief and on the basis that he would have access to Defendants' parks every day of the typical season – and especially in the summertime," Strassburger said. "Plaintiff would not have paid for the membership, or would not have paid for it on the same terms, had he known that he would not have access to any of defendants' parks."

Strassburger seeks to represent a nationwide class of all Six Flags customers who were charged the monthly membership fees while the theme parks were closed, and an Illinois subclass of all class members who were charged while the parks were closed in Illinois, according to the complaint.

The suit accuses the theme park giant of breach of express warranties, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, unjust enrichment, money had and received, conversion, breach of contract and violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and the Illinois Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Representatives of the parties could not be immediately reached for comment on Tuesday.

The proposed class is represented by Michael Aschenbrener and Scott Kamber of KamberLaw LLC, Yeremey Krivoshey and Frederick J. Klorczyk III of Bursor & Fisher PA, Daryoosh Khashayar of Khashayar Law Group, and Ronald A. Marron, Michael T. Houchin and Lilach Halperin of the Law Offices of Ronald A. Marron.

Counsel information for Six Flags could not be immediately determined on Tuesday.

The case is Strassburger et al v. Six Flags Theme Parks Inc. et al, case number 2020CH06208, in the Circuit Court of Cook County.

--Editing by Peter Rozovsky.

For a reprint of this article, please contact reprints@law360.com.

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