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‘Why Are We Here?’: Live Nation Asks Judge to End Antitrust Case

Live Nation says a new class action suit is "a nearly word-for-word copy" of an unsuccessful earlier case.

Live Nation wants a federal judge to reject a class action that claims that Ticketmaster is violating antitrust laws by monopolizing the market for concert tickets, calling it a “nearly word-for-word copy” of an unsuccessful earlier case.

In a motion filed Tuesday in California federal court, Live Nation said those accusations must be resolved via private arbitration, not through federal litigation. That’s the same fate that befell a similar case filed by similar lawyers over the same allegations – and Live Nation says it must apply to the new case, too.

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“This case is identical to another case that this Court sent to arbitration less than six months ago,” the company’s lawyers at the law firm Latham & Watkins wrote. “Why, then, are we here — yet again — and not in arbitration?”

The new lawsuit, filed in January, did include new claims. It said Live Nation was foisting newer, more draconian arbitration agreements on ticket buyers with the help of a different arbitration service. But in Tuesday’s filing, the concert giant said that was hardly enough to refile an entire new lawsuit.

“This case—just like [the previous case]—must be sent to arbitration,” Live Nation’s lawyers wrote. “To say that plaintiffs’ counsel are wasting the court’s time is an understatement.”

Ticketmaster and Live Nation have long been dogged by accusations that they exert an unfair dominance over the market for live concerts, particularly since they merged in 2010. But the current dispute kicked off in April 2020, when attorneys at the firm Quinn Emanuel filed a class action accusing the company of “predatory acts.”

The case claimed that Ticketmaster’s dominant market share and Live Nation’s huge influence over touring allowed the combined entity to bully venues and charge “extraordinarily high” prices to consumers.

“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 lawsuit read.

But the case was tossed out last year, when a federal judge ruled that ticket buyers had agreed to resolve any disputes with Ticketmaster via private arbitration rather than in open court.

The updated lawsuit, filed in January, included most of the same claims, but also added new accusations that take square aim at Ticketmaster’s use of such arbitration agreements, including claims that the company has recently begun using new language that’s even more unfair to buyers.

“The [new] agreement … requires consumers to engage in a novel and one-sided process that is tailored to disadvantage consumers,” wrote the Quinn Emanuel attorneys. “The … agreement skews the odds so egregiously in defendants’ favor through its defense-biased provisions, and is imposed in such a procedurally unfair manner, that it is permeated with unconscionability to a far greater degree than the prior … agreement.”

In Tuesday’s response, Live Nation’s lawyers called the updated claims an “improbable gambit” to avoid the earlier ruling. They said there was nothing “remotely sub-standard for the industry, let alone unconscionable” about the new arbitration clauses.