UC Davis student Joshua Rottman and roughly 15,000 other students nationwide have recently filed a class-action lawsuit after paying for a special presidential inauguration travel package and allegedly not receiving what they were promised.
The Virginia-based company, Envision EMI, organized a Congressional Youth Leadership Council program that promised opportunities for students to “bear witness as the president of the United States is sworn into office,” “meet White House officials, congressional staff, political experts, and more,” and “experience the sights and sounds of a jubilant nation during the Inaugural Parade and a Black Tie Gala Inaugural Ball,” according to advertising materials from Envision.
The package also advertised speeches by keynote speakers, including Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, and told students that the experience “will expand your understanding of the presidential election process and our nation’s democratic principles.“
What students experienced in Washington D.C., however, they say was vastly different from what they were promised. Envision allegedly failed to obtain tickets for students for either the inauguration or the parade, and the “Black Tie Gala Inaugural Ball” was not connected with any of the official Inaugural Balls.
“All [students] saw was the inside of a bus or were dropped off near the Washington Monument to fend for themselves,” attorney Bernard DiMuro, who represents Rottman, told the Associated Press.
“Our clients allege that CYLC and Envision were ill prepared to deal with the number of students they accepted,” said James Pizzirusso, a lawyer with Hausfeld LLP, in a written statement. “It was well known months before the inauguration that very few tickets would be issued for these events. Instead of advising the students of these issues and allowing people to cancel or obtain refunds, the defendants retained these students‘ payments and continued their misrepresentations.”
The lawsuit asks for an order to prevent Envision from further “deceptive sales practices” and for damages to be paid to the students of an amount not yet determined.
Envision has agreed to pay $1 million in damages, which would total about $65 per student. The cost of the inauguration package was approximately $2,380 to $2,620 per student.
Carmen McClaskey, director of communications for Envision, quoted the company’s official statement on the matter, saying, “The vast majority of students attending the Youth Inaugural Conference had a worthwhile and high-value educational experience.“
“For those who have expressed concerns to us,” the statement goes on to say, “we have worked with each family through a uniform and thorough process and have resolved almost all of the concerns or questions that have come to us.“
Envision refused to provide any additional commentary, saying, “Beyond that, we will not comment on pending litigation other than to say we intend to vigorously defend ourselves.”
Rottman’s attorneys refused to comment on the matter and requested that The California Aggie refrain from printing this story.
Envision, a for-profit company, includes several educational programs such as the Congressional Youth Leadership Council. The majority of the students who signed up for the inauguration package were former participants in these programs.
SARAH HANSEL can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.