Live Nation Ticket Buyers Sue Amid Justice Department Case

Live Nation Ticket Buyers

Live Nation and its Ticketmaster unit face the first in a likely wave of new consumer antitrust lawsuits after the U.S. government and states sued to break up the two companies on Thursday. The first consumer class action, filed later that day in Manhattan federal court, seeks $5 billion in damages on behalf of potentially millions of ticket purchasers.

These cases accuse Live Nation of exerting monopoly control over the live events industry, threatening venues that work with rivals, and boxing out competitors. Consumer cases related to U.S. or state attorneys general lawsuits can quickly accumulate, adding legal pressure on companies.

Lawyers for the class action plaintiffs at Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd and Israel David did not immediately comment on the situation. Live Nation called the government lawsuit “baseless” and asserted that there is “more competition than ever” in the live events market.

First case for Subramanian

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Arun Subramanian, appointed by Democratic U.S. President Joe Biden last year, was assigned the case. Previously, Subramanian represented some plaintiffs in antitrust lawsuits at law firm Susman Godfrey, but this case appears to be his first antitrust matter as a judge.

Lawyers who reviewed the government complaint noted that Live Nation might base its defense partly on the Justice Department’s decision to approve the company’s acquisition of Ticketmaster more than a decade ago. Eric Enson, an antitrust lawyer at Crowell & Moring not involved in the lawsuit, mentioned that the government’s case raises thorny “legal and factual questions about whether a breakup is a legally permissible remedy.”

He added that while the case might resonate with consumers who have long complained about ticket prices, “proving antitrust cases to juries can be difficult.” However, Rebecca Allensworth, an antitrust legal scholar at Vanderbilt University, stated that while public opinion of Live Nation is legally unimportant, “appearances matter in cases, maybe especially when they are decided by juries.”

The Justice Department clarified that its prior case in 2010, addressing Live Nation’s merger with Ticketmaster, involved a different antitrust law and that Live Nation has since shown “more expansive forms” of anticompetitive conduct.