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StubHub, Ticketmaster win in MLB ticket lawsuit

Fans watch the Dodgers play at Dodger Stadium.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

In April, when the baseball season was put on hold because of the coronavirus outbreak, fans sued over their inability to obtain ticket refunds for unplayed games. Now, as the abbreviated season approaches its conclusion, a court for the first time has indicated what it thinks of key claims in the lawsuit.

Not much.

StubHub, Ticketmaster and two affiliated companies were dismissed from the suit on Monday by U.S. District Court Judge Dale Fischer. In three weeks, Fischer is scheduled to decide whether to throw out the case entirely, as requested by Major League Baseball and its teams, the lone remaining defendants.

In April, when the suit was filed, MLB had advised teams to list unplayed games as postponed rather than canceled, leaving fans “stuck with expensive and unusable tickets for unplayable games in the midst of this economic crisis.” By July, when the league filed its response, a truncated season was underway without fans, and every team was offering fans a choice of refunds or credits.

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After years of not being close, Padres have narrowed the gap with seven-time division champions.

“They have already received the refunds they seek,” the league said.

In a series of rulings Monday, Fischer upheld the StubHub and Ticketmaster contracts that require ticket buyers to settle any disputes through arbitration rather than litigation. She directed the three plaintiffs that had bought tickets from those companies to pursue any claims in arbitration.

She also dismissed StubHub and Ticketmaster from the litigation with respect to the remaining plaintiffs, who had bought tickets directly from a team. Fischer said a central claim — that the ticket companies conspired with the league to postpone rather than cancel games so as to avoid granting refunds — was not supported by concrete evidence.

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“Most of the allegations stated [for that claim] are vague and follow the insufficient ‘everyone did everything’ type allegations,” Fischer wrote.


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