Similar to what transpired in Houston with the Republican Party of Texas’ convention, Dallas utilized the force majeure clause in the event contract to cancel it three days before it was set to kick off.
That clause exists in most contracts as an emergency exit for unforeseen circumstances. The city cited public health as it relates to coronavirus as the underlying reason.
The Texan spoke with Cliff Maloney, President of YAL, about the situation.
“Dallas waited until we had students, elected officials, and investors on their way and our stages and banners were in the parking lot of the Omni [Hotel] before canceling it,” he stated.
YAL had 1,400 students from across the country set to attend for their program that entailed activism training and a “principles in liberty” education with prominent speakers.
Additionally, 100 elected officials and 250 investors were set to attend.
Maloney said the city continuously threw curveballs at the Omni Hotel’s management demanding stricter rules and requirements to hold the event.
Some of the requirements included capacity limits, social distancing protocols, and mask provision.
He added that the hotel, “worked every step of the way to meet every irrational demand from the city, and I thank them for that.”
“There was no discussion, the city just called the hotel and informed them they were invoking the force majeure clause,” he continued.
Maloney then emphasized, “If they were going to do this, it should’ve been done three weeks ago, not when we basically had people sitting in the parking lot.”
Maloney said the Omni Hotel issued YAL a full refund but still must shoulder the vendor costs — whose contracts usually have a cancelation requirement of between five to ten days before the event — plus the airfare costs the organization spends to get its activists to the event, which may be refunded.
The event was originally set to be in Austin, and Maloney made the decision to avoid the looming issues with those city leaders and move the event to Dallas.
“We took a gamble that they would be more willing to work with us and apparently we were wrong,” he added.
The city’s coronavirus numbers have been improving in recent days as the seven-day averages of hospitalizations, cases, and deaths have all been declining.
According to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services, COVID-19 hospitalizations in the DFW region have declined by nearly 25 percent since reaching a high of almost 2,000 patients on July 22.
Similarly, the number of active coronavirus cases in Dallas County have fallen from a high of 17,400 on July 20 to 14,000 on August 2.
Maloney is currently exploring all options, including legal, for reprisal against the city over its breach of contract.
He further added that he looked to go outside Dallas County, but every surrounding county indicated they’d “follow the lead of Dallas.”
The cancelation has galvanized the organization’s activists, Maloney emphasized.
He concluded, “It seems the government officials would rather deny the ability to peaceably assemble, but allow that opportunity to violent protestors and further preventing people from being able to work and earn a living.”
A City of Dallas spokesperson told The Texan, “Large indoor gatherings have been canceled to comply with Governor Abbott’s General Order 29 issued July 2 to limit the spread of COVID-19. Please note, most outdoor demonstrations are not granted permits, but First Amendment activities are protected.”
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to provide a statement from the City of Dallas.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.