Lawyers representing a proposed class of consumers who say they’ve been harmed by alleged anti-competitive conduct by Ticketmaster and parent Live Nation were back in court this week, hoping to convince an appeals court to give them their day in court vs. being forced to arbitration. Ticketmaster and Live Nation have on multiple occasions avoided having to defend themselves in open court against a multitude of lawsuits by invoking clauses in their terms and conditions forcing consumers to accept private and binding arbitration for all disputes.
From Complete Music Update:
According to Law360, lawyers from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP presented some other arguments for why the arbitration term should not be binding in court yesterday. They are working on a class action lawsuit that accuses Live Nation and Ticketmaster of anti-competitive conduct, because the live giant is so dominant in concert promotion and primary ticketing, and also active in secondary ticketing in the US.
Earlier this year, Live Nation asked that the lawsuit be dismissed entirely, arguing that since so many similar actions had been kicked to arbitration, the latest lawsuit deserved the same fate.
Quinn Emmanuel lawyers have been pushing for a different outcome throughout this case, arguing that Live Nation’s entire arbitration system is unlawful because it compels consumers with no alternative option to submit to an unfair proceeding as part of their purchase.
“The [new] agreement … requires consumers to engage in a novel and one-sided process that is tailored to disadvantage consumers,” wrote the Quinn Emanuel attorneys in their initial filing on the case. “The … agreement skews the odds so egregiously in defendants’ favor through its defense-biased provisions, and is imposed in such a procedurally unfair manner, that it is permeated with unconscionability to a far greater degree than the prior … agreement.”
Scrutiny over Live Nation and Ticketmaster’s operations relative to competition and monopoly status has been widespread since the two companies merged in a blockbuster deal approved in 2010. Rep. Bill Pascrell has famously pursued better regulation of what he plainly called “Live Nation and Ticketmaster’s abuse of their monopoly power” in a 2018 New York Times Op-Ed. Artists rights groups, economists, and consumers filing lawsuits have also tried to push back against the company, as did the Federal Trade Commission itself, but even that just amounted to a slap on the wrist by way of a fine and extension of an existing consent decree. Even a prosecution over employees illegally accessing a competing company’s computer systems to gather critical data and gain a competitive advantage – a company that Live Nation subsequently purchased in order to end civil litigation alleging data espionage – was sidestepped via the payment of a $10 million fine.
More recently, Rep. Pascrell wrote a letter demanding answers regarding Ticketmaster’s surge “dynamic pricing” practices in the wake of massive backlash to the practice following the sale of Bruce Springsteen 2023 tour tickets, while the American Antitrust Institute set an October event featuring U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar to discuss what it characterizes as the monopoly at the center of live entertainment and how it might be addressed.
Last Updated on September 30, 2022 by Dave Clark