In a decision that could have implications for how show and sports tickets are sold in Baltimore, the state's highest court ruled Friday that service fees charged by
The ruling, which stems from a class action lawsuit brought in federal court in 2011, relies on an obscure 1948 Baltimore ordinance rushed through the City Council to curb scalping of Navy football tickets. But it underscores a modern frustration many concertgoers and sports fans have had with service charges that are frequently tacked on by ticket vendors.
Whether the ruling will result in refunds for people who attended games at
Service charges are "a way of masking the real price for consumers and driving up the cost," said Marty Wolf of
A Baltimore man, Andre Bourgeois, filed the suit in 2011 after paying $12 in Ticketmaster service charges on a $52 ticket to see
A spokeswoman for Live Nation declined to comment, citing the pending federal lawsuit. Sandy Richmond, president and executive director of the Lyric, also declined to comment.
The federal court requested the Maryland Court of Appeals to decide whether a Baltimore City ordinance banning the sale of tickets above face value applied in the case. That ordinance was rushed through the City Council in one day in 1948 after reports that city residents were being charged exorbitant prices by ticket agencies to attend a Navy-Notre Dame football game.
The Maryland court ruled that the ordinance does apply.
It's not clear how many tickets could be affected by the decision.
Even if refunds never come, the ruling may force Ticketmaster to use what's known as all-in pricing on tickets sold in Baltimore, meaning additional charges would have to be included in the face value price, which the company sometimes already does.
In a brief filed in state court, Ravens and Orioles officials said they support the current ticket sales structure in Baltimore.