Two Favorable Decisions Secured for New York Electronic Ticket Buyers

Simmons Hanly Conroy, a national complex litigation firm, won a favorable decision on June 30 for consumers who buy electronic tickets online in Pires v. Bowery Presents, LLC, Case No. 652312/13 (N.Y. Supreme Court). The case raises an issue of first impression regarding the rights of ticket buyers who purchase electronic tickets.

In 2012, the firm’s client purchased a non-transferrable electronic paperless ticket to a performance of “The Temper Trap” at the Bowery Ballroom on the Ticketmaster web site. However, the New York Arts and Cultural Affairs Law prohibits the sale of non-transferrable paperless tickets. The plaintiff then attempted to transfer the ticket in accordance with the rights granted to her by state law, and Ticketmaster refused. The client then commenced this putative class action seeking damages and injunctive relief.

Bowery moved to dismiss on various grounds and argued that the case could not proceed as a class action. The Court rejected Bowery’s argument that the case could not be a class action and denied Bowery’s motion to dismiss the client’s claim for damages. It granted Bowery’s motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim for injunctive relief, but left open the possibility that such relief might be available if an amended complaint is submitted. Because the case involves issues of first impression, firm attorney Thomas Sheridan anticipates that Bowery will appeal.

In April, in an arbitration involving the same consumer protection statute, the firm obtained a Consent Award on behalf of two clients in which Ticketmaster agreed that the sale of non-transferable paperless tickets (the same as those sold in the Bowery case) violated the law and agreed to pay statutory damages to the firm’s clients. Ticketmaster also agreed to an injunction restraining it from selling non-transferable tickets and agreed to pay statutory attorney’s fees in an amount to be determined by the arbitrator. This case had to proceed as an arbitration, because the Ticketmaster terms of use require arbitration and prohibit actions for class relief. Ticketmaster agreed to the Consent Award a few days before the arbitration hearing was scheduled to begin.

For more information about the case, click here.

To read a copy of the order, click here.