HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A class-action lawsuit has been filed over the last-minute cancellation of Sunday's U.S. Women's soccer game, just as the state has launched its own investigation.
Attorneys Brandee Faria and John Perkin filed the lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation and the Aloha Stadium Authority on behalf of two Oahu soccer fans who bought six tickets, spending more than $300. The lawyers said fans from the neighbor islands and the mainland lost even more money because they won't be reimbursed for their travel costs.
"They're out thousands of dollars. Air fare and hotel accommodations. And not just that. This event was scheduled on a Sunday so you're going to have to take time off work for the outer island," Faria said.
"(They're) outraged, outraged. An even bigger outrage is they didn't find out until an email notification at 12:59 a.m. on the day of the event."
Meanwhile, the state Department of Consumer Protection has opened a formal investigation. It wants to know why soccer officials didn't cancel earlier.
"Frankly, the conduct that I know of at this point is very disturbing and I think it warrants looking into the circumstances surrounding it," said Stephen Levins, executive director of the state Office of Consumer Protection.
U.S. Soccer Federation officials declined comment. But in an interview with the New York Times, the federation's president Sunil Gulati apologized to fans and players.
"We had a series of mistakes involving this game ... We screwed up. It won't happen again," Gulati told the Times.
Soccer officials will refund ticket purchases. But that won't cover the cost of travel to Oahu by Neighbor Island and Mainland fans. Under Hawaii law, consumers could be entitled to a huge payout if they can prove soccer and state officials acted deceptively.
"If we're successful in establishing that these acts of these defendants constitute unfair and deceptive trade practices,they would be entitled to treble damages, not just the refund they got," Faria said.
Faria should know. She's one of the attorneys who sued the rock group Aerosmith back in 2007 over a canceled concert on Maui. The case was later settled when Aerosmith agreed to give a free concert on Maui.