It was only a matter of time. TMZ reports the first festival lawsuit in the new COVID-19 world has been filed, and California’s beloved DoLabB as fallen victim. The DoLaB (which produces Lightning in a Bottle) is one of many festival organizers who have annouced an indefinate postponement of their events as a result of the Coronavirus Social Distnancing Guidelines. In an effort to avoid providing event refunds, many event organizers are chosing to postpone (as opposed to formally cancel) their 2020 events. Lightning in a Bottle was formally “postponed” back on March 13 with no mentions of an event refund or new event dates. The class action lawsuit filed against Do LaB, Inc. was filed by Michael Geragos of the Geragos Law Group on behalf of an Illinois woman named Tessa Nesis, who purchased a ticket to Lightning in a Bottle for 2020.
In documents obtained and reported by TMZ, Nesis claims the festival, which was scheduled to take place Memorial Day Weekend in May, is refusing to offer refunds which violates California law. The festival was to take place in Bakersfield. The lawsuit seeks $5 million in damages, which includes refunds for all of the estimated 10,000 to 20,000 tickets sold.
According to TMZ, Lightning in a Bottle released the following in a statement in March: “Sadly, we cannot offer refunds for the cancelled event. We are, however, working on a plan to make you whole over the next few LIB’s. This will include a system for crediting you for future years.”
With so many unknowns still over a month after the COVID-19 pandemic started shutting down live events and other mass gatherings, it’s difficult to know what the future holds for Do LaB and other festival organizers, let alone the entire live entertainment industry. It is important to note that the Do LaB also sponsors a stage at Coachella, which has been postponed to October. No word yet on any changes, but with this in the horizon, we imagine some updates soon.
This article was written by Liz Gawlik, who usually is traveling the world from festival to festival, can now be found at her lake house in Connecticut. It looks like 90s style house parties are about to be resurrected, so feel free to watch them @lizy.mae on Instagram.
Note: It was noted as that as of April 15th, The Do lab provided this email to LIB Ticket Holders:
“As you know, government mandates in response to COVID-19 forced us to cancel Lightning in a Bottle. Several weeks ago, under immense pressure, we presented you with a plan to move forward, a plan that fell short of our standards and your expectations. Please accept our apologies; we aim to create joy and human connection, and never want to disappoint anyone–especially all of you.
This is by far the most difficult predicament we have experienced since we started LIB almost 20 years ago. For the first time, we are challenged to find a clear path forward.
Thank you for your patience with us as we work through potential solutions. The festival industry is in a time of crisis. Many great independent companies will go out of business and cherished festivals and events will disappear. We are committed to LIB not being one of them, but we need your help to meet that commitment. As discussed below, the collective reaction from our community moving forward will be a significant factor in whether we are able to weather this storm.
As big as LIB may seem, it operates with a lot of risk and very small margins. We work to keep ticket prices affordable, and ticket revenue alone does not usually cover all of the festival’s expenses. As soon as one LIB ends, production and spending for the next festival begins. As ticket revenue comes in it generally goes out just as fast to pay our vendors, put down deposits for talent, pay out substantial staff, build stages and sets, pay for permits, location fees, etc. Producing LIB requires twelve months’ collaboration with a huge ecosystem of producers, managers, artists and creators. Many of these folks have been working for 6 months or more on our 2020 festival.
All of this is just to say that ticket sales, in a good year, cover the festival’s bills and we rely on other sales at our festival to make our profit. Profitability of the event, or whether or not we break even, is determined in the final weeks of sales right before the festival starts.
When it became clear to us that the event was going to be canceled, we were mid-production and had spent nearly all of the ticket money on LIB. We faced a heartbreaking truth: we do not have enough money to issue full refunds to all of you. We therefore announced that there would be no refunds.
Notwithstanding our prior announcement, we remain committed to getting a full refund to everyone who wants one. We have worked together with the music agents and artists, and are thankful to announce that a vast majority of the artists, despite having incurred their own non-refundable expenses in planning for their LIB performances, are returning their deposits in an effort to help us in this time of crisis. Our goal is to build the largest pool of money possible so that we can then use it to help refund ticket purchasers. However, we need you to understand the situation, and that is if the majority of our community request refunds, it may mean the end of Do LaB because the pool will be far too small to refund everyone, and that debt will be crushing.
If your life has been touched or changed in an unforgettable way by Lightning in a Bottle, please help us make it through to the other side.
Specifically, we ask that you either:
- Support the Future of LIB With a Gift. If you want our organization to continue to exist and you are able to, please gift your 2020 purchase to our shared future. If you can choose this option we would be forever grateful. Click Here to Select Option 1
2. Transfer Your 2020 Ticket to a Ticket for 2021 or 2022. If you can transfer your 2020 ticket to either 2021 or 2022, please do so. If you are able and willing, please consider choosing 2022 instead of 2021. As an incentive to choose 2022, you will receive a free VIP upgrade for each 2020 festival pass. If the majority of you choose 2021, it will create an extremely challenging set of financial circumstances for us next year. Your understanding and willingness to work with us on this is appreciated beyond measure. Thank you. Click Here to Select Option 2
3. Join the Pool to Receive a Refund. If you truly cannot do either option 1 or 2, please sign up for a refund by April 29th at 12pm. Once the refund registration window closes, we will understand how many full refunds we can pay, and whether we need to offer partial refunds. Refunds will not be immediate. We cannot give an estimate as to when, but will communicate as we get clarity. Click Here to Select Option 3
We understand that this is a big request of all of you, and far from a perfect resolution. But we also know that you care about LIB as much as we do, and that we likely cannot keep it afloat without your cooperation. We want to support you, and are asking you to support us. And, if you have any other creative ideas or solutions that we might have missed, please let us know at: email@example.com
It takes a community to create the magic of a festival and it is a community that can help all of us get through this together. It is our hope and vision that we will be together for all of the love, joy, and connection offered by LIB next year, but we need your help to fulfill that vision.
In Solidarity, Do LaB”