Ticketmaster and StubHub have secured a win in court as claims brought by Major League Baseball fans over alleged denied refunds due to COVID-19 have been dismissed or sent to arbitration.
U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer ruled on Monday that StubHub and Ticketmaster are to be dismissed from the litigation with respect to those who had bought tickets directly from a MLB team. Fischer said a central claim was not supported by concrete evidence.
The suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles in April, alleged violations of California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act and Unfair Competition Law and of civil conspiracy. It claimed the league and the ticketing firms conspired together to maintain 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, Fischer said this week: “Nowhere do plaintiffs allege that Ticketmaster — an authorised reseller of MLB tickets — and StubHub — a fan-to-fan resale ticket merchant — had the power to affirmatively cancel baseball games. That was squarely in the hands of the MLB, commissioner and team defendants.”
Judge Fischer said the fans have until October 12 to amend their complaint to allege their belief that all defendants formed a conspiracy “not to give refunds” rather than “not to cancel games in order to avoid refunds.”
Meanwhile, Fischer upheld the StubHub and Ticketmaster contracts, directing the three fans who purchased tickets directly from the companies to arbitrate those claims.
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 fans who were allegedly denied refunds after games were called off due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
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.
In July, the ticketing companies asked the court to toss out the claims or send to arbitration, arguing there was clearly no fraud nor a violation of California consumer protection law.
In late July, MLB filed its own motion to dismiss, arguing the suit is “riddled with defects.”
Fischer is scheduled to announce whether to dismiss the case entirely or continue with MLB and its teams as the lone remaining defendants.