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Students Launch Suit Over Inauguration Letdown

Two students filed a federal lawsuit today alleging that a Vienna company didn't deliver on promises that they would be able to attend President Obama's inauguration if they paid the firm's program about $2,500.

Dash Radosti, a student at Rachel Carson Middle School in Herndon, and Joshua Rottman, a college student in California, filed the suit in the District's federal court. Their attorneys are seeking class-action status for the 15,000 students who participated in the Presidential Youth Inaugural Conference, which was run by Envision EMI.

A spokesperson at Envision could not be reached for comment. Phones at the company went unanswered. The suit alleges that students paid up to $2,630 in tuition and lodging to attend the conference.

The company promised students they could attend the inauguration, educational seminars and a "Black Tie Gala Inaugural Ball," the suit alleges.

But once in Washington, the students learned they did not have inauguration tickets and would have to fend for themselves.

Rottman, 21, said in an interview that he watched the event on his hotel television.

Envision didn't deliver on other promises, the students' attorneys allege.

The company told students they would get to hear bicyclist Lance Armstrong speak, but he never showed up, said James J. Pizzirusso, one of the students' attorneys.

The black-tie galas were held in school gymnasiums or at a conference center. They did not require formal wear and were not affiliated with the inauguration, Pizzirusso said.

Students also couldn't get into packed rooms to hear promised speakers, Pizzirusso said.

According to press reports, the company reserved $1 million to pay restitution to the students. But Pizzirusso said that each student would only get to collect about $65 on average.

"That doesn't even pay for the tux rental," he said.



More information on this case:

Practice Areas: Deceptive Business Practices and Consumer Protection