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RAGE AGAINST THE TICKETMASTER MACHINE: CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT CHALLENGES CHANGES IN REFUND POLICY AMID COVID-19

Derek Hanson spent $590 on four tickets to two different Rage Against the Machine shows to be held in Oakland this month.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, those and about 55,000 other events scheduled between March and the end of the year were impacted.  Previously, Live Nation and one of its divisions, Ticketmaster, had a policy for which they issued refunds to all events that had been postponed, rescheduled, or cancelled.

Like many folks, Hanson wanted a refund since he could use the money and Live Nation’s own president predicted live events may not occur again until 2021.  To his surprise, however, Ticketmaster and Live Nation retroactively changed their policy after the pandemic crisis to only offer refunds for cancelled shows.  So, Hanson filed suit in federal court in San Francisco last Friday seeking class action status and potential damages in excess of $5 million for claims such as breach of contract, conversion, unjust enrichment and false advertising.

The same day, Ticketmaster President Jared Smith responded to a letter from Reps. Katie Porter, D-Calif., and Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., that it will provide refunds on a rolling basis for all events impacted by COVID-19.  This news comes amid Live Nation’s announcement that it would cut $500 million in costs in 2020 and it’s CEO, Michael Rapino, is foregoing his annual base pay of  $3 million.

Ticketmaster and Live Nation were also sued Monday by Major League Baseball fans seeking refunds for their tickets due to the indefinite postponement of the season, that would have otherwise commenced on March 26.  Like Hanson, the plaintiffs in that action are seeking class action status as well.  Given Ticketmaster and Live Nation’s swift course reversal, however, it is as yet undetermined what will become of those lawsuits since it appears the plaintiffs’ most salient demands are being met.

As we previously reported, United Airlines is also facing a class action lawsuit for similarly refusing to issue refund to its customers for flight cancellations related to the current pandemic crisis.  As the inevitable quarantining disruptions continue to ripple through the economy, one can reasonably expect litigation to spike as a result of the crisis.

If you have questions regarding the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on your contractual obligations, please call us at (704) 457-1010 to schedule a consultation.  For more information regarding our firm, attorneys, and practice areas, please visit http://www.lindleylawoffice.com/.

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