Judge Rules That Ticketmaster Can’t Be Sued Over Its Terms of Service Because One of the Terms Is That You Can’t Sue Ticketmaster

Federal Judge Dismisses Class-Action Lawsuit Against Ticketmaster

A federal judge has ruled that an angry customer who filed a class-action complaint against Ticketmaster is unable to take the matter to trial because the Live Nation-owned company’s terms of use (TOU) contain an enforceable arbitration agreement.

Judge Edward M. Chen recently granted Ticketmaster’s request to compel arbitration in a class-action lawsuit filed by Derek Hansen, a music fan who purchased two Rage Against the Machine tickets in February of this year. Hansen’s complaint – one of several levied against Ticketmaster amid the pandemic – accuses the platform of changing its refund policy following the COVID-prompted cancellation of most concerts and crowd-based events.

Now, citing the terms of use that each customer must accept when logging into Ticketmaster’s website, Judge Chen has granted the defendants’ motion to compel arbitration. As a result, the complaint will be heard before an arbitrator as opposed to receiving a trial.

In explaining his decision, the Northern District of California judge emphasizes that the distinction at the center of the litigation is whether Hansen possessed “constructive knowledge of the arbitration agreement – or rather, of the TOU which contain the arbitration agreement.”

Worth noting here is that the pertinent portion of Ticketmaster’s TOU from the time of purchase reads: “These terms contain an arbitration agreement and class action waiver, whereby you agree that any dispute or claim relating in any way to your use of the Site…will be resolved by binding, individual arbitration, rather than in court, and you waive your right to participate in a class action lawsuit or class-wide arbitration.”

And, after reiterating that state law determines the validity of arbitration agreements, Judge Chen highlights precedent established by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2014’s Nguyen v. Barnes & Noble. In the case, the court identified “clickwrap” agreements (those with an “I Agree” checkbox) and “browsewrap” agreements (wherein TOS are featured in hyperlinks at the screen’s bottom).

Barnes and Noble lost the case, as the court ruled that the browsewrap TOS and arbitration clause at hand didn’t constitute a binding contract, given that customers weren’t expressly provided with notice or compelled to take an “affirmative action” demonstrating that they understood the stipulations.

Ticketmaster’s TOS (and, in turn, arbitration clause) were displayed in the style of “modified clickwrap agreements” when the plaintiff bought the Rage Against the Machine tickets, with the hyperlinked section featured (albeit “in a slightly smaller font size” than the other text) “right above” the sign-in button. (This layout, including the specified positioning and colors, appears to be the same presently.)

Moreover, the judge notes a ruling from a 2018 lawsuit concerning Ticketmaster’s fine print, in which the court found: “Ticketmaster’s website provided sufficient notice for constructive assent, and therefore, there was a binding arbitration agreement between Lee and Ticketmaster.”

Given this point and the decidedly similar layout on Ticketmaster’s website today, Judge Chen indicates in finishing that the plaintiff did in fact consent to the arbitration agreement when buying his passes.

“Accordingly, the Court concludes, as in Lee [the above-mentioned 2018 suit], that Mr. Hansen validly assented to the Ticketmaster TOU when he clicked the Sign In button, as required before he could move on to purchase tickets for the Rage concerts,” writes Judge Chen.

“By assenting to the TOU, Mr. Hansen also assented to the arbitration agreement contained therein.”

3 Responses

  1. Avatar
    JBneon

    There are plenty of local and regional acts (wherever you happen to reside) that do not use LN/TM services. Until the big acts and venues that use LN/TM services realize there customers are being continuely screwed by this company. With $30-50 per ticket fees, overpriced concessions @ there venues & soon to be, show your vaccination papers. Along with legalese (in mice type) that says once you give us your $$$. You relenquish every right you believe you have, may have in the future, and into perpetuity. Even if the “spectacle” is delayed, re-scheduled, or cancelled. Been there, done that …. I am ready to be entertained by local & regional artist who have a passion for there craft, appreciate your $$$, and provide overwhelming value over the alternative of the “spectacle”.

  2. Avatar
    Ben

    there’s two otpions,

    or people stop fueling these shady businesses until they collpase and file for bankrupty

    or people must agree to be screwed with no way to get to trial even if feeling legit.

    music business in 2020 looks like a jungle, where only the biggest,srongets win
    not meaning the biggets are the most honnest

    I’m still amazed that people are complaining about those shitty companies behaviors (such Spotify) but keep fueling these monsters THEY help to grow up.

    Greed once again

  3. Avatar
    Al Answer

    This is, and always has been, and easy fix. People need to just stop using Ticketmaster. Boycott all events that use Ticketmaster. Period. If people can have some self-control, the downline financial results will be that either Ticketmaster straightens up or artists stop using them. Nothing will happen if people don’t act together.