A lawsuit filed shortly after the coronavirus pandemic brought Major League Baseball’s upcoming season (and all other sports) to a sudden halt fizzled out this week, as a judge dismissed StubHub and Ticketmaster from the lawsuit, with MLB expected to see similar results on its dismissal requests soon. U.S. District Court Judge Dale Fischer made the ruling, which all but shuts down the consumer litigation over postponed games.
Part of the reason for the anticlimactic ending was the fact that MLB’s season finally got underway and teams offered refunds for any games that had been originally scheduled prior to the pandemic due to attendance restrictions put in place by various cities and the league itself. The lawsuit had been largely built on the fact that games were initially treated as postponed rather than cancelled, which consumers argued was an illegal attempt to hang on to their money despite the dim prospects of the games ever being played in front of fans.
“They have already received the refunds they seek,” MLB said in its request to have itself dismissed from the lawsuit as their ticketing partners already have.
Most notably for future ticket holders similarly situated, Fischer upheld the wording of Ticketmaster and StubHub contracts that require consumers to agree to arbitration rather than the courts in disputes. Another central claim – that the ticket companies conspired with the league to postpone rather than cancel games so as to avoid granting refunds — was not supported by concrete evidence according to the judge.
“Most of the allegations stated [for that claim] are vague and follow the insufficient ‘everyone did everything’ type allegations,” Fischer wrote.
Ticket hopes for the rest of MLB’s truncated 2020 season got a shot in the arm with this week’s announcement that the league would take a bubble format for its postseason. Games will be played in California and Texas, which means that there are hopes for at least some fans in the stands for the fall classic.