SXSW was hit with a class action lawsuit in April 2020 on behalf of ticket holders who were not offered refunds after the Austin, Texas festival was canceled by the city. The festival and the plaintiffs have recently reached a settlement for the lawsuit brought by plaintiffs Maria Bromley and Kleber Pauta, according to court documents viewed by Pitchfork. A district court judge granted preliminary approval of the settlement on September 30.
The judge’s order granting the preliminary approval notes that the two parties reached the settlement “as a result of intensive, arm’s-length negotiations” during a 10-hour mediation session on December 17, 2020. The judge’s preliminary approval outlines procedures the festival needs to take in order to reach out to members of the class. A “fairness hearing” is scheduled for February 18, 2022, which will determine if the settlement should be approved as “fair, reasonable, and adequate.”
In a statement, shared with Pitchfork via email, the plantiffs’ litigation team said: “Class Counsel are pleased to have secured a settlement that provides meaningful relief to 2020 SXSW pass holders, and we look forward to working towards final approval so that the Class may enjoy the settlement’s benefits.”
On Wednesday, October 6—days after the judge granted the settlement’s preliminary approval—SXSW filed a separate lawsuit against Federal Insurance Company for not funding its defense. The complaint, viewed by Pitchfork, claims the company has refused to provide insurance coverage surrounding the 2020 cancellation. The festival is suing for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and conversion; SXSW seeks a judicial declaration ordering the Federal Insurance Company to indemnify and defend the event, including loss, settlement, and defense costs.
Pitchfork has reached out to attorneys for SXSW and the class action plaintiffs.