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US consumers launch class action against Ticketmaster “monopoly”

Ticketmaster and parent company Live Nation are again facing a class action lawsuit in the US from consumers who claim they are violating antitrust laws by monopolising ticket sales.

A lawsuit was filed in a California federal court earlier this week on behalf of four individuals from California, Ohio and Florida. Attorneys at Quinn Emanuel and Keller Lenkner argue that the 2010 merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster has allowed them to overcharge consumers for tickets by coercing venues into boycotting competing ticketing platforms and deploying unconscionable arbitration agreements.

The two proposed classes include all US consumers who purchased a primary ticket and paid associated fees using Ticketmaster or an affiliated entity, and those who purchased tickets on the secondary market using the platform or another service owned by Live Nation at any point since 2010.

The complaint alleges that Ticketmaster has a market share exceeding 70% of primary ticketing services for major concert venues, and says hundreds of thousands or millions of people could potentially become class members.

“The combined Live Nation/Ticketmaster behemoth has enormous, and unique, market power in primary ticketing and concert promotion services, and has shown it is unafraid to use that power,” the complaint reads.

Among the allegations are: “Defendants have willfully acquired and maintained monopoly power for Ticketmaster in the relevant markets for primary ticketing services for major concert venues and, on information and belief, for secondary ticketing services for major concert venues.”

The filing of the lawsuit comes after a similar action was rejected in 2020 by a US District Judge who ruled that consumers are locked into contracts that require them to resolve their claims outside of court. This new legal action claims such arbitration agreements are unenforceable because they require consumers to submit to unfair proceedings.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced in 2019 that it had agreed to extend and clarify the consent decree that allowed the 2010 merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster despite numerous infringements. A new consent decree was introduced until 2025, with Kirkland & Ellis LLP partner Mark Filip appointed as Independent Monitoring Trustee.

In 2020, the DOJ submitted a court filing that included claims from six unnamed venues that they were told that the concert-promotion giant would stop booking acts at those venues if they continued to use a competitor to Ticketmaster. Some of the venues said Live Nation retaliated against them after they chose to use a competing company.