Detroit Ticket Law Lifted

A federal judge in Detroit ruled January 18th that ticket-holders in the city can resell their concert or sports ducats.

By declaring a scalping ban unconstitutional, Judge John Corbett O’Meara ruled people can legally resell their tix for face value or less within 500 feet of a venue on event days.

“The city offers no explanation how the ordinance with its broad reach directly advances its alleged interest in traffic safety and security,” O’Meara wrote in a 17-page opinion, according to The Detroit News. “Therefore, the ordinance is unconstitutional.”

The ruling has no effect on current state law or a companion city ordinance banning ticket sales for more than face value.

City attorney Edward Keelean said Detroit is reviewing the decision to see if it will appeal and has until January 27th to do so.

About 1,500 fans filed a class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court in 2004 against the city, the News said, claiming the ordinance violated their First Amendment rights. The city also reportedly cited 1,138 people for selling tickets at or below face value through August 2005. Many were convicted of the misdemeanor offense.

The January 18th ruling could cost Detroit more than $1.5 million because plaintiffs will be able to recover damages and attorneys fees, plaintiffs attorney Thomas Cecil told the paper.

Federal magistrate Wallace Capel Jr. reportedly issued a preliminary order in September that the ordinance was unconstitutional, but the city continued to bust ticket-holders for reselling their concert tix. The latest judgment could put the city on the hook for more money, the News said.

O’Meara said the city was liable for damages to fans who were issued citations when they sold Eminem, Bruce Springsteen and Detroit Lions tickets to undercover police officers. Violations of the ordinance are punishable by up to $500 in fines and 90 days in jail. The judge ordered a trial to determine the city’s liability.