News of Ticketmaster’s alleged collusion with ticket scalpers — detailed in an investigative report in mid-September by CBC and the Toronto Star — has sparked a development that perhaps was only a matter of time: a class-action lawsuit from fans.
Law firm Hagens Berman filed a suit on Friday in California federal court on behalf of lead plaintiff Allen Lee, who is suing Ticketmaster and its parent company Live Nation Entertainment for “unlawful and unfair business practices” that have “unjustly enriched” the ticket-seller at the expense of live events fans.
According to the Canadian outlets’ mid-September report, Ticketmaster secretly helps scalpers grab mass quantities of tickets for resale and collects kickbacks from their secondary sale, which takes place via Ticketmaster-regulated platforms. While Ticketmaster’s secondary market is legitimate, allowing mass resale violates the company’s own stated policies.
Steve Berman, managing partner and co-founder of the law firm representing the suit, called such a program a “highly controlled black-market scheme,” and the suit’s proposed class encompasses anyone in the U.S. who has purchased a ticket from a professional reseller associated with Ticketmaster’s secondary market.
A representative for Ticketmaster did not immediately reply to a request for comment. A rep for Hagens Berman directed Rolling Stone to a press release on the suit.
Separately, U.S. senators Jerry Moran and Richard Blumenthal sent a letter last week to Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino demanding clarifications about Ticketmaster’s resale programs, noting that the “allegations of the harms to consumers” are “serious and deserve immediate attention.”
“When you think of ticket buyers being swindled by scalpers, you likely imagine last-minute sales outside venue doors,” Berman said in a press release accompanying the suit. “You certainly wouldn’t assume the company selling the tickets — Ticketmaster — to be the ringleader behind massive price hikes spanning millions of tickets.” Hagens Berman is now asking for others who have purchased secondary market tickets from Ticketmaster’s resale platforms, including TicketsNow and Ticketmaster Verified, to come onboard. The class must be certified by a judge for the case to proceed.
A second class-action lawsuit against Ticketmaster and Live Nation in Canada is also pending, encompassing not the resale program in particular but Ticketmaster’s high pricing at large; lawyer Tony Merchant says he has been working on the suit for six months.