New Jersey-based ticket broker Chuck Lombardo, owner of Elite Entertainment Inc., is suing Ticketmaster Entertainment and its TicketsNow and Front Line Management subsidiaries for allegedly reneging on a deal to buy his company and employ him after he helped the ticketing giant develop its secondary ticket business.
The lawsuit was filed earlier this week in Los Angeles Superior Court, and details were not immediately available, but according to a source familiar with the case, Lombardo signed an employment agreement with Ticketmaster in the fall of 2008 but the company never followed through with the alleged deal.
Lombardo claims Ticketmaster approached him for help with its TicketExchange and TicketsNow properties, and after assisting the company Ticketmaster was allegedly going to buy Elite Entertainment for an undisclosed amount and hire Lombardo and all of his employees. Ticketmaster allegedly forced Lombardo to sign the employment agreement, or the company would drive him out of business.
Lombardo declined to comment and referred questions to his California-based attorney, Larry Iser.
“In response to the rise in the secondary sales of premium sports and concert tickets via the Internet, Ticketmaster engaged the services of veteran ticket brokers Elite Entertainment and Chuck Lombardo to teach Ticketmaster how to compete in this market and how to build its own secondary ticketing platforms, such as TicketExchange,” Iser said in a statement. “The complaint alleges that Ticketmaster reneged on its deal with Elite and Lombardo, forcing Elite and Lombardo to file suit [this week]. We intend to make Ticketmaster pay these service charges.”
Ticketmaster did not return a message seeking comment. The company’s secondary ticket business, particularly TicketsNow, has drawn significant criticism over the past year, and it has been the focus of several lawsuits. During the summer, the Wall Street Journal exposed a failed plan – code named “Project Showtime” – by Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff to acquire several secondary ticket companies, and Elite Entertainment was one of them.