California judge refers Live Nation ticket antitrust case to arbitration

The Live Nation Entertainment logo is displayed on a ground display at the New York Stock Exchange. REUTERS / Brendan McDermid

  • The judge said the terms of use on the Live Nation and Ticketmaster sites require arbitration
  • Quinn Emanuel’s team for complainants said they had not approved the terms of service

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(Reuters) – A California federal judge on Thursday dismissed an alleged national consumer class action suit alleging that the merger of Live Nation Entertainment Inc and Ticketmaster LLC has reduced competition in the market and inflated the prices of tickets sold on web platforms.

U.S. District Judge George Wu of the Los Angeles Federal Court said the plaintiffs were bound by arbitration clauses contained in the terms of use for the websites of Ticketmaster and its Beverly Hills-based parent company Live Nation. , in California. Wu accepted the defendants’ offer to demand arbitration.

Wu said in a Sept. 20 ruling that the plaintiffs had “provided no persuasive authority when a court struck down an arbitration agreement in similar circumstances.” He added: “The tribunal joins with many others in re-concluding that the defendants’ websites have provided sufficient constructive notice as required for mutual assent.”

Frederick Lorig, a partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan in Los Angeles who represented the plaintiffs, did not immediately return a message on Friday seeking comment.

Lawyers for Live Nation and Ticketmaster at Latham & Watkins, including Daniel Wall, former chairman of the firm’s antitrust practice, also did not return a message seeking comment.

The putative class sued Live Nation and Hollywood, Calif., Ticketmaster in April 2020, alleging violations of federal antitrust law in two areas: the “primary” market for an initial distribution of tickets and a “secondary” market for the resale of tickets purchased previously. .

The complaint alleged that Live Nation and Ticketmaster “engaged in predatory and exclusionary behavior,” including efforts to enter into long-term agreements with sites in an effort to suppress competition for the sale of tickets.

The complainants stated, among other things, that they did not see or read the relevant terms of use, and that they did not agree to them, when purchasing tickets online.

Wu said that “a user manifests his assent by completing the account creation process, logging into an account, or completing a purchase.”

The plaintiffs also said that a “countdown” – in which a ticket purchase had to be made – added additional pressure that did not allow consumers to read the terms of use.

Wu said the practice of a timer was not “oppressive.”

“If desired seats in popular shows sold out within minutes, as the plaintiffs claim, ‘booking tickets’ could actually increase the time a user has to complete their purchase before desirable tickets run out.” , Wu wrote.

The case is Oberstein v. Live Nation Entertainment Inc, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, No. 20-cv-03888.

For the Complainant: Frederick Lorig, Kevin Teruya and Adam Wolfson of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan

For Live Nation and Ticketmaster: Daniel Wall and Timothy O’Mara from Latham & Watkins

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