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Summer Camp Refuses To Refund Parents Who Paid Ahead Of Time, Files For Bankruptcy

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A popular summer camp has filed for bankruptcy and has told parents who paid ahead of time they won't be receiving refunds.

In January, Alina Malkin paid $600 to Camp Galileo for her son to attend two weeks this summer.

"I paid it in full so I could get the free registration discount," she said.

Camp Galileo operates 70 camps across the country including several in the Los Angeles area.

When the pandemic hit, the camp's owner sent an email to parents. "Camp is cancelled and we are not giving any refunds. Sorry, we don't have any money," Malkin summarized.

The email went on to say that the camp had already spent a majority of its funds on supplies, hiring summer staff, insurance, and marketing.

"I thought 'what do you mean you spent it,'" asked Malkin.

Days later, the owner notified parents that the company was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after close to 20 years in business.

In an email, the owner said families would get credit for camp in 2021.

Eva Vieyra Osmand paid just over $1,000 in February to Camp Galileo.

When she signed up, she got an email saying she could cancel and get the majority of her money back 30 days prior.

"I feel as though the only way to get my money back is to go through my bank. I don't really believe Galileo has any intention of giving us our money back," she said.

Dean Rallis, a bankruptcy attorney for Hahn & Hahn, said the camp won't be able to reorganize and reopen in 2021 without agreeing to refund parent's 2020 deposits.

"So unlike your general unsecured creditor, which are generally the last in line right above equity holders, parents who have made deposits will be given priority status," Rallis said.

In a statement, Galileo Learning wrote:

"By filing for Chapter 11 Galileo will be able to remain in business, fairly address the claims of its creditors, and survive the unexpected impacts of the pandemic so we can continue to serve camper families."

A class-action lawsuit has already been filed against the camp.

Shari Fenig, a single mom who is now out of work, paid $400 on a scholarship to reserve her son's spot at the camp.

"All the other camps that I signed my kids up for are all being honest and offering refunds, except for this one. And this, because of its reputation, is why I signed up my kid," she said.

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