The city invoked the contract’s force majeure clause and cited the pandemic as its reason behind the last-minute termination. The decision cost YAL nearly $200,000 in damages and was levied as the organization had an advance team in the parking lot with the necessary setup materials.
Cliff Maloney, YAL president, said in a statement provided to The Texan, “What we are fighting against in this lawsuit is exactly the kind of underhanded, double-dealing politics the American people are sick of.”
“The City of Dallas needs to be asked: Why are riots and unmasked protests being allowed to occur, but peaceful YAL events are being shut down? We look forward to seeing what discovery in this case reveals about what really went on here and how decisions were made behind closed doors to shut down a perfectly safe and peaceful event.”
The event was scheduled to have 1,400 student activists, 250 donors, and 100 legislators in attendance and Maloney added that the organization agreed to every requirement asked of them by the city.
A similar situation transpired in Houston with the Republican Party of Texas (RPT) as the time for its convention neared. The force majeure clause was also triggered, the use of which was challenged in court due to the foreseen nature of the pandemic.
The federal judge ruled in favor of RPT, including on the invalid force majeure use grounds. But the case was later dismissed. The party is still trying to recover financial damages, just as YAL is now attempting to do.
When the decision to nix the event was made by the city, Dallas’ coronavirus status was improving as case and hospitalization numbers had been on the decline for a couple of weeks.
Upon cancellation, a Dallas spokesperson told The Texan the “large indoor gathering [was] 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.”
The suit will be filed in a Dallas County district court.
The Texan has reached out to the City of Dallas for comment.
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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.