Justices Reject Lawsuit Against Ticketmaster

<i> From Bloomberg News</i>

USA Networks Inc.’s Ticketmaster, the largest U.S. ticket service company, won’t have to pay antitrust damages to a group of consumers that claims the company uses its dominance of the business to jack up prices for popular concerts.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the consumers’ appeal, leaving intact a lower court ruling that found they do not have the legal right to seek damages from the company.

The decision means Ticketmaster won’t have to cough up a portion of the more than $300 million a year it earns in ticketing fees.


The consumers can still press their claim for an injunction, which, among other things, could require Ticketmaster to end its exclusive contracts with concert venues.

The group, led by Alex Campos, says Ticketmaster’s 1991 purchase of rival Ticketron gave it a monopoly. In a complaint filed in federal court in St. Louis, they said Ticketmaster sells 90% of all tickets for large-scale popular-music concerts in the U.S.

That market dominance, they say, allowed the company to increase service fees from about $1.50 in 1991 to anywhere from $3 to $15 today.

Ticketmaster asked a federal judge to throw out the complaint, citing a rule in antitrust law under which “indirect purchasers” cannot file suit against a seller.

The company said it sells its services to the concert venues, not the ticket buyers. That means only the venues have “standing” to press claims about inflated prices, Ticketmaster argued.

The justices, without comment, rejected the consumers’ appeal of that ruling. The decision sends the case back to a lower court, where the ticket buyers can press their case for an injunction.