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StubHub calls for MLB refund lawsuit to be sent to arbitration

StubHub has called for a lawsuit from Major League Baseball (MLB) fans seeking refunds to be thrown out or sent to arbitration.

The ticketing platform has requested a California federal court to toss the suit, claiming there was “clearly no fraud nor a violation of California consumer protection law.”

MLB, its 30 franchises, Ticketmaster, Live Nation, Last Minute Transactions and its ticket resale partner StubHub were all named in the class action lawsuit by two fans who were denied refunds after games were called off due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles in April, alleges violations of California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act and Unfair Competition Law and of civil conspiracy.

The suit claimed the league maintained games were “postponed” despite the increasing chance that many or all of the games would not be rescheduled as a “pretext” to avoid handing over refunds.

However, StubHub said any remaining claims are covered by the arbitration agreements that users agreed to when registering to use its website and claims that fans are attempting to avoid the “binding” arbitration agreements “by masquerading their potential claims in groundless allegations of conspiracy and fraud.”

The fans also used the lawsuit to highlight StubHub’s changing “Fan Guarantee” refund policy in mid-March without informing consumers.

The ticketing platform did begin offering a 120 per cent credit to be used toward future purchases, but only for games that were officially cancelled.

StubHub said, according to Law 360: “Indeed, plaintiffs do not, and could not allege that StubHub had any knowledge that the pandemic would impact MLB games when plaintiffs made their purchases because those purchases preceded any StubHub change in policy, any pandemic-related shutdowns in the United States, and any pandemic-related impact on sporting events.”

Earlier this month, lawyers representing MLB and ticket operators including Ticketmaster asked to stay all discovery in a $1bn class action over COVID-19 refunds.

MLB is set to kick off a shortened season of 60 games, significantly less than the typical 162 game season, on July 23, but could be played behind closed doors.

Image: Gabriel Argudo Jr / (CC BY 2.0) / Edited for size