Baltimore man sues Live Nation for "exorbitant" Jackson Browne tickets
A Baltimore man sued Live Nation and Ticketmaster last week saying the entertainment behemoth overcharged him for Jackson Browne tickets.
Now he's seeking to recover the service charges as well as punitive charges and attorneys' fees.
The man, Andre Bourgeois, filed the lawsuit last Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for Maryland as an individual and also as a class action. Or, in other words, on behalf of anyone who bought tickets from the Ticketmaster in the past four years and felt gouged.
Though the lawsuit does not ask for a specific amount from Live Nation, the combined damages from those in the class could exceed $5 million, according to the complaint filed by Towson firm Quinn, Gordon & Wolf.
The Daily Record, which first reported the news, points out that Live Nation already settled a similar case in January for $22.3 million.
At the heart of this lawsuit is Bourgeois' allegation that Live Nation and Ticketmaster are not registered as ticket agencies by the city of Baltimore, and therefore, their "exorbitant" service fees are are tantamount to scalping under city law.
Through a spokeswoman, Live Nation had no comment. "We do not comment on pending litigation," Liz Morentin said.
Bourgeois's decision to sue started with a Jackson Browne concert in Baltimore two years ago. He bought a $52 ticket for the show from Ticketmaster, but was charged $12 in service charges.
He charges in the lawsuit that Live Nation "used their dominating market position in the business of ticket sales to impose service charges on top of the face value of tickets in violation of Baltimore City law," which allows only a .50 cent service charge over a ticket's face value, according to the lawsuit.
Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged last year, becoming an enormous conglomerate that last year took in a billion dollars in revenue from ticket sales.
In the lawsuit, the entertainment company is charged with a total of ten counts, including being in violation of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act and the federal Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO.
The case is in its early stages and it's not clear yet when the two sides will meet in court. Quinn, Gordon & Wolf also declined to comment.
Update: Dean Budnick, one of the authors of the just published "Ticket Masters," said lawsuits against Ticketmaster over service fees have been pursued across the country for several years.
But the company had typically not settled. The settlement from earlier this year started differently from the Baltimore lawsuit, Budnick said.
In that case, three individuals sued Ticketmaster for misleading them about processing fees, and eventually it turned into a class action, whereas here, Bourgeois is pursuing a class action from the start.
"The case wound on for quite some time and eventually Ticketmaster blinked as it picked up momentum," he said.
Budnick said the Baltimore lawsuit seems to to be less about service charges than the city's own laws on ticket sales. "I think it would turn on the definition of 'scalping' and 'face value' in the statute," he said.