Feds To Hear LN Class-Action

Live Nation moved to send a class action complaint alleging illegal service charges, kickbacks and RICO violations to Maryland federal court, saying it is the proper venue to hear the case.

The original suit, filed by plaintiff Andre Bourgeois in Baltimore, claims a city ordinance limits ticket service charges to 50 cents. He also claims LN violated Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization laws by conspiring with Lyric Productions, which operates the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore, and paying it a “kickback.”

The suit was originally filed in June. Live Nation moved for dismissal in October and Bourgeois voluntarily asked that it be dismissed the next month. He then refiled the case to include Lyric.

“The defendants have completely ignored the restrictions of the law and have criminally overcharged and conspired to overcharge their customers,” the suit said. “They have reaped huge financial windfalls from operating outside of the rules which apply to them.”

Live Nation responded in court filings that the ordinance does not apply to its sale of tickets. “The universal understanding of ‘ticket scalping’ encompasses only the reselling of tickets (and not an original sale as alleged here),” the company said in a filing.

Bourgeois alleges he bought a ticket to see Jackson Browne at Lyric Opera House in 2009 and had a service charge exceeding $12 on top of the $52 face value. He bought his ducat through Ticketmaster, but Live Nation is a defendant because of the merger of the two.

The lawsuit claims Baltimore City Code prohibits the sale of tickets, at face value or above, by anyone not licensed as a “ticket agency” by the Baltimore City Director of Finance. Neither Live Nation nor fellow defendant Monumental Ticketing – previously known as Ticketmaster Group Limited Partnership – are licensed as ticketing agencies in Baltimore, according to the suit. And, if they were, the city code allows them to have a maximum service charge of 50 cents per ticket.

The suit specifically alleges violations of the RICO Act, the Maryland Consumer Protection Act, negligent misrepresentation and other state law claims. It seeks to represent a class of everyone who bought tickets to an event in Baltimore through Live Nation over the last four years.