Major League Baseball and all of its teams joined its ticketing partners including Ticketmaster and StubHub in asking the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to put discovery on hold in a class action lawsuit over refunds related to games cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The lawsuit, filed in April by consumers who purchased tickets to the upcoming season, only to see the games postponed indefinitely while the league and its partners scrambled to develop a plan to resume play, alleges that the halt of play has led to $1 billion in consumer money being held in limbo.
MLB and its teams filed motions on Tuesday, supporting motions filed by the ticketing operations on June 26 asking for the stay on discovery, which all characterize as overly broad relative to the lawsuit. They indicated an intention to move that the entire lawsuit be booted to an arbitration process.
“Plaintiffs have purported to serve the baseball defendants with wide-ranging and invasive document requests broadly aimed at the merits of this dispute,” the MLB filing read, in part. “The burden that those requests would impose is not justified in light of the very real prospect that upcoming motions practice will end this matter.”
The plaintiffs, who are seeking a certification of a class that could include tens of thousands of impacted consumers, asked the court to deny the motion in a filing Tuesday.
“As stadiums remain empty for the foreseeable future, baseball fans are stuck with expensive and unusable tickets for unplayable games in the midst of this economic crisis,” the original filing reads. “Under the pretext of `postponing’ games, at the directive of MLB, teams and ticket merchants are refusing to issue refunds for games which are not going to be played as scheduled — if ever.”
“While many businesses across this country have acted lawfully and ethically by providing consumers with refunds for events that will never occur during this pandemic, sometimes at the risk of bankruptcy, it remains notable that America’s pastime — baseball — is refusing to do right by its fans.”
Baseball is scheduled to return to the field by the end of this month, as teams returned to spring training facilities this week. Plans are that they will play games at their home stadiums, but it is unclear at this point whether fans will be allowed to attend games, and at what percentage of capacity, as the coronavirus continues to disrupt events across the country.