CJAC: Civil Justice Association of California

Jun 30, 2016

Ticketmaster and the need to reform class action litigation

Daily Journal
June 30, 2016

By Kim Stone

By now you’ve probably heard about the Ticketmaster class action — maybe you’ve even searched for your name in the database to find out if you’re entitled to any recovery. You can check by logging into your Ticketmaster account.

As I read about this lawsuit, I can feel my blood pressure rising. Much about it demonstrates what is wrong with class actions in California and why we need common sense reform.

The first problem is how long the lawsuit took. The lawsuit was filed in 2003. The supposed “recovery” is coming in 2016 — 13 years later.

The second problem is with the complaint. Well actually it’s the “fourth amended complaint” that wasn’t even filed until May 30, 2013. Why does a lawsuit filed in 2003 take 10 years to get the complaint right? If the complaint wasn’t properly filed then, why wasn’t the lawsuit over, or dismissed? Because, the first complaint was amended to a new plaintiff (who the plaintiffs’ lawyers probably found from discovery from the first complaint), the second complaint and the third complaint did the same thing. So you end up with the “fourth amended complaint” including grievances taking place in 2008 and 2010 and 2103 — five and seven and 10 years after the lawsuit was first filed. And during this time, the plaintiffs spent more money racking up attorney fees (that would eventually be paid by Ticketmaster as part of the settlement). They got to find new plaintiffs, who at the time of the filing of the original suit hadn’t even bought their tickets yet.

The third problem with this lawsuit is the violation of law alleged. Okay, so the five named plaintiffs all said they didn’t know that the extra fees on top of their tickets would also generate revenue for Ticketmaster, and if they had known that, they claim, they never would have bought the tickets. So plaintiff Lo Re, who bought tickets to see Bruce Springsteen at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, would not have done so had he realized that not all of the $14.50 UPS shipping fee went to UPS — some of it went to Ticketmaster. James Roth, a Dave Matthews Band fan, claims that he would have not gone to two concerts in 2008 and 2010 had he realized that some of the “order processing fee” went to Ticketmaster. Plaintiff Curt Schlesinger likewise claims that he would have not bought tickets for a 2013 Wilco concert had he known that some of the order processing fees and UPS fees went to Ticketmaster. I’ll agree that extra fees are annoying, but none of the plaintiffs claim that they didn’t know how much they had to pay to get the tickets. They just didn’t like that the “UPS fee” for shipping was going to UPS and Ticketmaster, not just UPS.

To read the full op-ed, click here.

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