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MLB, teams, ticket partners sued over failure to provide refunds

The MLB season was scheduled to start March 26.
(Arash Markazi / Los Angeles Times)

Major League Baseball, its teams and its official ticket resale partner were sued Monday in federal court by two fans who have tried and failed to get refunds for games called off because of the coronavirus crisis.

The suit, which seeks the class-action certification that would enable all fans to join, demands a refund of ticket costs and ancillary fees for games that have not been played.

“While many businesses across this country have acted lawfully and ethically by providing consumers with refunds for events that will never occur during this pandemic, sometimes at the risk of bankruptcy, it remains notable that America’s pastime — baseball — is refusing to do right by its fans,” the lawsuit reads. “As stadiums remain empty for the foreseeable future, baseball fans are stuck with expensive and unusable tickets for unplayable games in the midst of this economic crisis.”

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. According to the suit, “well over 100" fans are prepared to make claims and alleges the “amount in controversy ... exceeds $5 million.”

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The suit purports five legal violations, three specific to California law: one under the state’s consumer legal remedies act, the other two under the unfair competition law of the state’s business and professions code. The defendants are MLB, each of the 30 teams and four ticket companies, including StubHub — the league’s official resale partner — Ticketmaster, Live Nation and Last Minute Transactions.

The 2020 season was scheduled to start March 26. No new date has been set, and in the meantime, the league has floated proposals to play games without fans in attendance, including one in which every game would be played in Arizona.

The league has advised teams to list unplayed games as postponed rather than canceled and said it hopes to play as many games as possible. In turn, teams generally have advised fans to retain tickets and await a rescheduled date.

“Even if some games can be played for the 2020 MLB season, it is near certainty that no fans will attend,” the suit reads. “As such, at a minimum, the defendants should acknowledge this and recognize that its loyal fans cannot bear the entire brunt of the economic hardship of the pandemic while team owners and ticket companies keep the plaintiffs’ money.”

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MLB spokesman Pat Courtney did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a petition from the Los Angeles Rams to send a lawsuit regarding their relocation from St. Louis into arbitration.


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