A federal judge in California ruled in favor of Ticketmaster’s request that a class action lawsuit brought in the state over the company’s relationship with ticket brokers be moved to arbitration, per the fine print in the terms and conditions fans must accept while buying on its system.
The decision by U.S. District Court judge Vince Chhabria affirmed Ticketmaster’s claim that the fine print means primary plaintiff Allen Lee and others seeking remedy in the wake of the CBC’s blockbuster reporting in the summer of 2018 must work for remedy behind the opaque curtain of arbitration.
In the lawsuit, Lee’s lawyers had hoped to persuade the judge that time limits on ticket purchases (complete with a countdown clock showing how little time a consumer has before losing the tickets in their cart) pressured buyers into purchasing without reading the terms they were accepting. But Chhabria disagreed with that, effectively ending the lawsuit.
The news was a positive counterpoint for the Live Nation-owned ticketing giant, which faces a £5 million (approx. $6.5 million) class action lawsuit in the UK over a major data breach last year. That action was announced last week.
Lee’s lawsuit was one of several that tried to hold the company to account in the wake of joint reports from the Toronto Star and CBC last summer that outlined Ticketmaster’s pro-broker programs. The reports alleged that Ticketmaster works closely with ticket brokers who use their “Trade Desk” system to manage inventory. While undercover at the Ticket Summit trade show, a CBC News reporter recorded a Ticketmaster Resale employee discussing how the secondary operation turns a blind eye to scalpers who use fake identities and various Ticketmaster accounts to buy tickets on the primary market.
A lawsuit filed with similar causes of action in Canada over the Trade Desk system and other alleged consumer abuses by Ticketmaster remains ongoing.