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Weil Secures Dismissal with Prejudice of StubHub Ticket Resale Action

Weil successfully obtained dismissal of a putative class action alleging that client StubHub had misled consumers as to the authenticity and validity of tickets sold by third-party sellers on StubHub’s website. In a decision issued on January 11, 2013, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California rejected the plaintiff’s six causes of action and granted StubHub’s motion to dismiss in its entirety with prejudice.

The case arose from plaintiff’s alleged purchase of two tickets to a December 2011 San Francisco 49ers home football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers from a third-party seller on StubHub’s website. Plaintiff claimed that, although she was initially admitted to the game, she allegedly was later informed by security that her tickets were invalid and removed from the stadium. She further alleged that after the game, she contacted StubHub and received a full refund for the price of the tickets and all service and delivery fees pursuant to StubHub’s FanProtect™ Guarantee.

Plaintiff filed suit in federal court early last year on behalf of two putative classes alleging: (1) a violation of California’s ticket seller statute; (2) a violation of California’s unfair competition law; (3) a violation of California’s false advertising law; (4) a violation of California’s consumer legal remedies act; (5) fraud; (6) negligent misrepresentation; and (7) breach of contract. Plaintiff’s core allegation underlying this lawsuit was her claim that StubHub makes “numerous representations” on its website and charges a “service fee,” all of which allegedly “mislead” consumers into believing that all tickets sold on StubHub’s website will be authentic and valid for entry. The plaintiff sought various forms of monetary relief, including twice the amount of her ticket price under the ticket statute, along with recovery of her travel expenses to attend the game and injunctive relief. Weil secured a dismissal without prejudice of her initial complaint on September 4, 2012 for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.

Plaintiff filed an amended complaint containing substantially the same allegations, but dropped her claim under California’s consumer legal remedies act. StubHub again moved to dismiss the amended complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. In granting StubHub’s motion to dismiss the amended complaint, the district court rejected the claim under California’s ticket seller statute because “StubHub is a virtual marketplace allowing users to purchase tickets from … third-parties.” The district court further concluded that since StubHub is “not a ticket seller,” the statute did not apply. The district court also dismissed the various consumer protection, fraud, and negligent misrepresentation claims because StubHub’s website “makes clear” the terms of StubHub’s FanProtect™ Guarantee that “in the event that tickets were invalid and not replaceable, then StubHub would refund the full price of the tickets and any fees incurred.” Thus, the district court concluded that there were no misrepresentations because StubHub’s website clearly discloses that tickets “might not be valid for entry” and that, in those instances, StubHub will protect its users by issuing a full refund. In addition, the district court rejected the breach of contract claim because StubHub honored its FanProtect™ Guarantee by issuing a full refund to the plaintiff. Finally, the district court also denied plaintiff further leave to amend.

Weil has successfully represented StubHub in several putative consumer class actions, including cases regarding tickets to Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees baseball games – each of which were dismissed with prejudice at the pleading stage for failure to state a claim for relief – as well as a case regarding tickets to a Hannah Montana concert in which we won an appeal before the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

The Weil Litigation team included New York partners David Lender and Eric Hochstadt, and Washington, DC associate Kristen Echemendia.

Legalese