The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas Austin Division on April 24 by two plaintiffs, Maria Bromley and Pauta Kleber, who claim to have spent over $1,000 each on attending the event that was originally scheduled for March 12-20 in Austin. On March 6, organizers announced they were forced to cancel the annual festival due to a city order that prohibited large gatherings in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Following the cancellation, SXSW informed ticket and pass holders that they would not be receiving refunds. Instead, the independent festival offered pass holders free registration — equivalent to the amount they spent for the 2020 festival — that would be valid for SXSW in 2021, 2022 or 2023. They were also offered a 50% discount based on the amount they spent in 2020 for another one of those three years.
According to the lawsuit, both plaintiffs were informed that the offer expires on April 30, 2020. The complaint notes that these offers were put forth by the festival on March 12, which additionally stated that it “cannot be certain that future festivals will occur.”