A lawsuit accusing Live Nation of illegally charging exorbitant service fees and giving “kickbacks” to a Baltimore concert hall is winding its way through the Maryland court system.
Andre Bourgeois filed a class action lawsuit against Live Nation accusing its Ticketmaster division of breaking a Baltimore ordinance that prohibits service fees above $0.50 over face value.
Ticketmaster charged Bourgeois $12 in service fees for a ticket with a face value of $52. The incident occurred in 2009, when Bourgeois purchased a ticket to see Jackson Browne at the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore.
Bourgeois’ original complaint was filed against Live Nation last summer, but he recently amended it to include the Lyric Opera House.
The revised lawsuit claims that “a portion of the illegal ‘service charges’ denominated as Ticketmaster’s fees are actually not for any services by Ticketmaster — instead, they are paid as kickbacks to the Lyric, allowing the Lyric itself to collect more from its customers than advertised ticket prices.”
A Baltimore city ordinance prohibits licensed ticket agents from selling tickets with service fees higher than $0.50 cents above face value, according to the lawsuit.
The statute states: “It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, association, or corporation to sell or exchange, or offer to sell or exchange, for more than the price state thereon or for remuneration in any form greater than such price, any ticket or tickets for admission to a public amusement, athletic, educational, or other event in the City of Baltimore.”
The lawsuit, in essence, accuses Ticketmaster of scalping its tickets, a charge that Ticketmaster denies. The company states in court documents that ticket scalping “encompasses only the reselling of tickets.” In this case, Ticketmaster said it was the primary seller of the ticket, not a secondary ticket reseller.
“The Defendants, however, have completely ignored the restrictions of the law and have criminally overcharged and conspired to overcharge their customers,” the lawsuit states.
Last week, the court agreed the amended case could be heard in Maryland federal court, but a date for trial has not yet been set.