Ticketnetwork Suit Settled

An online ticket sales company on Wednesday dropped a defamation lawsuit against a Hartford theater and its president, after the sides agreed to work together to benefit ticket buyers just before the case went to trial. 

TicketNetwork Inc., based in South Windsor, sued The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts and its president and chief executive, David Fay, in 2011, after Fay disparaged the business practices of TicketNetwork and similar companies during testimony before state lawmakers.

TicketNetwork CEO Donald Vaccaro and Fay said in a joint statement Wednesday that both sides agreed to work together to resolve their concerns about the ticket market, “particularly involving a lack of transparency with respect to ticket sales.”

They didn’t elaborate. The statement added that in reaching the deal, the two parties “have demonstrated a commitment to work together for the benefit of Connecticut consumers.”

Fay told a legislative committee considering easing restrictions on online ticket sellers that companies owned by Vaccaro and others create systems that use virtual buyers to gobble up seats sold through The Bushnell website, then sell them at inflated prices. Such virtual buyers would begin transactions and keep requesting additional time to complete their purchase, freezing ticket sales and allowing the sites to choose the best seats, he said.

Prices could reach 10 times face value for popular shows, Fay told the committee considering the ultimately failed bill. TicketNetwork denied the allegations and sued The Bushnell and Fay in Hartford Superior Court, saying Fay’s comments weren’t true and harmed the company. The company said in court documents that it “functions as an electronic marketplace for the selling of tickets by those who have tickets, and TicketNetwork does not itself buy tickets, or put tickets on ‘hold,’ or raise the resale price on tickets.”

In July, TicketNetwork settled deceptive business practice allegations by state and federal regulators for $750,000.

The Federal Trade Commission said ads and websites of TicketNetwork and other companies that settled “misled consumers into thinking they were buying event tickets from the original venue at face value. Instead, the complaint alleges, the companies’ websites actually were ticket reseller sites with event tickets often priced above the venue’s original price.”