AG Racine Sues Wedding Venue For Refusing to Provide Refunds or Reschedule Events Cancelled Due To COVID-19 Pandemic

Lawsuit Against Loft at 600 F Seeks Restitution for Consumers Out Thousands of Dollars After Events Were Cancelled

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine today filed suit against a District event venue and its owner that refused to provide refunds or reschedule weddings and other events that were cancelled while the space was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In the lawsuit, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) alleges that the Loft at 600 F, which also did business as DC Event Hub, failed to provide promised refunds to consumers who spent thousands of dollars on events that were cancelled due to restrictions on large gatherings and failed to allow consumers to reschedule their events for later dates. OAG is seeking restitution and damages for consumers who were unable to reschedule events and are still waiting for refunds and civil penalties for violating the District’s consumer protection laws, among other types of relief. 

“Businesses must abide by their policies and contracts and follow the District’s consumer protection laws – even during a pandemic. Yet the Loft at 600 F failed to do both, withholding thousands of dollars for weddings and events that could not go forward as the pandemic raged. Our lawsuit will right this wrong,” said AG Racine. “We’re suing the Loft at 600 F to make sure consumers get their money back and to stop this event venue from continuing to violate the District’s consumer protection laws.”

Loft at 600 F, LLC is a company that owns and operates an event venue in the District located at 600 F St NW. The company, which also does business as DC Event Hub, rents the venue out for weddings and other parties. Loft at 600 F charged rental fees ranging from $3,500 to over $10,000 per event, and consumers signed contracts for venue rentals months in advance. Under the terms of the contracts, consumers were required to put down deposits to secure their rental and pay all event fees 90 days ahead of their event. However, the contracts also included a clause saying that if it became impossible to hold the event for reasons beyond the control of the consumers or the venue, the consumers could reschedule their event or receive a refund.

In March 2020, Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered the closure of all nonessential businesses, including venues for large events, in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Loft at 600 F suspended operations and cancelled all events. Shortly thereafter, OAG received multiple complaints from consumers that the venue was unresponsive to requests for refunds and requests to reschedule weddings.

The District’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA) prohibits a wide variety of deceptive and unlawful businesses practices that harm consumers. OAG alleges that Loft at 600 F and its CEO, Martin Avila, violated the CPPA by:

  • Refusing to reschedule cancelled weddings and events: Though the Lofts at 600 F promised that consumers would be able to reschedule events cancelled because of circumstances outside of their control, the company failed to respond to requests from consumers whose events were cancelled. For example, one consumer paid $11,750 for an event at the venue scheduled for late March 2020. The venue informed this consumer that it would reschedule the consumer’s event for another date. Then, when the consumer attempted to reschedule, the venue failed to respond to calls and emails.
  • Failing to provide promised refunds: Many consumers who had planned weddings and other events months in advance were unable to hold the events due to the pandemic and public health emergency. Despite the Loft at 600 F’s representations that consumers could receive refunds in situations like this one, the venue failed to provide refunds to any consumers. Several consumers reported to OAG that they paid more than $10,000 for events scheduled for the spring of 2020 that had been cancelled. They are still waiting for refunds.

With this lawsuit, OAG is seeking restitution and damages for harmed consumers, civil penalties for violating District laws, and costs the District incurred by bringing this case. 

A copy of OAG’s legal complaint against Lofts at 600 F is available here.

Protecting Consumers During the COVID-19 Pandemic
OAG has worked diligently to protect District consumers from challenges they faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Soon after the public emergency was declared, the office responded to a high level of complaints about price gouging by sending cease and desist letters to merchants and filing lawsuits against businesses that did not come into compliance with District law, including a lawsuit against a large gasoline seller. OAG also responded to complaints from consumers about being billed for services they could not use, including by suing Washington Sports Club for charging gym members while its clubs were closed and refusing to allow members to cancel, and investigating StubHub for failing to provide refunds after events were cancelled.

How to Report Unfair Business Practices
To report scams, fraud, or unfair business practices, contact OAG’s Office of Consumer Protection by: