AEG Moves To Dismiss Ozzy Lawsuit

Ozzy Osbourne Forum
Rich Fury/Forum Photos
– Ozzy Osbourne Forum
OZZY OSBOURNE AND BLACK SABBATH perform at the Forum in Los Angeles Feb. 11, 2014. Whether the Prince Of Darkness returns to the venue on his upcoming “No More Tours 2” farewell outing may depend on the outcome of a dispute over block-booking.

AEG filed a memorandum June 1 in U.S. District Court to strike down the lawsuit filed against it by Ozzy Osbourne, who alleges the promotion giant is unlawfully tying it’s venues The O2 in London and Staples Center in Los Angeles.

“On the surface, [Osbourne] purports to bring an antitrust lawsuit against Defendants Anschutz Entertainment Group Inc., L.A. Arena Company LLC and Ansco Arena Ltd in the name of ‘artistic freedom’ to protect artists such as himself from being ‘coerced’ into performing at Staples Center instead of the Forum,” the memorandum’s introduction reads. “In reality, this case is a poorly-disguised attempt by Ozzy’s promoter, Live Nation (represented by the same lawyers), to pressure Defendants to abandon their lawful efforts to compete for bookings in Los Angeles and counteract Live Nation’s tactics to steer business away from venues that AEG owns.”

The filing says the lawsuit should be dismissed because Ozzy does not qualify for antitrust standing, he hasn’t satisfactorily proven the existence of any element of coercion, and that because he has a preference for The O2 doesn’t necessarily mean AEG has adversely affected the market’s competitiveness.

The memorandum also clarifies that the existing agreement doesn’t even stipulate that Ozzy can’t perform at the Forum in Inglewood, as the claim alleges – it simply states that Live Nation cannot promote that show.

The document also explains that although Ozzy has not signed the agreement, he doesn’t have to for it to be in effect, drawing attention to a specifically added portion of the First Amended Complaint.

The suit was filed March 21, alleging violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act and seeking injunctive and declaratory relief in the form of an injunction that prohibits enforcement of the “Staples Center Commitment,” a judicial determination that the Staples Center Commitment “is contrary to the antitrust laws of the United States,” that the portion of the agreement signed by Osbourne that conditions the use of The O2 on use of Staples Center is unenforceable, plus attorney’s fees and costs.

That filing followed a public war of words between Sharon Osbourne, Ozzy’s wife and manager, AEG Presents CEO Jay Marciano and Irving Azoff.

Pollstar got in touch with several attorneys after the dispute became public, who offered varied opinions on the matter. One of them was Howard King, who said: ““The O2 has limited availability. Why shouldn’t the owner of the building be able to impose whatever conditions they want for someone to book the venue, including saying you have to use the other venue if you ever come to Los Angeles? It’s not like you’re being deprived of food or water, and it’s not like you don’t have another venue in London to go to. There’s lots of venues in London. Where did everybody go before The O2 was built?

“From a PR standpoint, Sharon may be right but from a legal standpoint, it’s not like AEG controls the market for venues in London. … They just happen to have what some people consider the best venue. They’re not a public utility; they don’t have to make it available to everybody.”