Live Nation Asks judge to stop Taylor Swift fans’ lawsuit

(Reuters) – Live Nation Entertainment Inc and subsidiary Ticketmaster LLC asked a U.S. judge on Friday to halt a proposed consumer class action over their sales of Taylor Swift concert tickets and instead force claims to be heard privately in arbitration.

The companies are hoping to head off a lawsuit in Los Angeles, California, federal court accusing them of violating antitrust and consumer protection laws.

Demand from fans, scalpers and bots for Swift’s first tour in five years caused the Ticketmaster site to crash last fall, and raised new scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers and others about what critics say is a lack of competition in the ticketing market.

The December lawsuit alleged the 2010 merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster eliminated market competition and let the companies charge higher prices for Swift tickets than they otherwise could.

Companies generally favor arbitration over court litigation to try to quickly resolve matters and limit potential damages. Antitrust cases in U.S. court expose a company to the possibility of trebled damages.

In its Friday court filing, Beverly Hills-based Live Nation said the ticket purchaser who filed the case “repeatedly agreed” to arbitrate any claims arising from her use of Ticketmaster’s online systems.

Live Nation has successfully argued in other cases that users of its online ticketing platforms agreed to arbitrate disputes. The company pointed the Los Angeles court to a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling this month that upheld arbitration in an antitrust suit against the ticket company.

Attorneys for Live Nation called the 9th Circuit decision on Feb. 13 “binding authority” that “can and should end” the Los Angeles court’s inquiry.

Lawyers for the plaintiff and Live Nation did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.

The case is Sterioff v. Live Nation Entertainment Inc and Ticketmaster LLC, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 2:22-cv-09230-GW-GJS.