StubHub Owner Hit With Ticket Refund Suit Amid Pandemic

By Lauren Berg
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Law360 (August 12, 2020, 7:24 PM EDT) -- StubHub's new parent company Viagogo Entertainment Inc. on Wednesday became the latest ticket marketplace to be hit with a proposed class action over its alleged failure to give customers refunds for events that were canceled in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Switzerland-based Viagogo, which recently bought StubHub from eBay for $4.05 billion, is trying to retroactively discontinue its guarantee that promises customers a full refund for tickets to any canceled event purchased through the company's website, according to the complaint filed by Lauren Shiflett in Florida federal court.

It's because of that refund guarantee that customers buy their tickets at a premium through Viagogo, rather than from an outside venue at a cheaper price, Shiflett said. She and other Viagogo customers are contractually entitled to that guarantee on account of buying tickets through the company, according to the complaint.

"Despite the fact that [Shiflett] and the class made their purchases while the Viagogo guarantee was promised and in full force, Viagogo has refused to honor that promise, shifting the burden of its corporate losses and potential future losses onto many thousands of its loyal customers," Shiflett said.

Shiflett's suit claims violations of Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act as well as breach of contract, conversion and unjust enrichment. The suit seeks actual, punitive and statutory damages and attorney fees, among other things. She seeks to represent a nationwide class of all people who used Viagogo to buy tickets to any event that was subsequently canceled due to COVID-19 and who have not received any refund, as well as a Florida class.

Shiflett said she used Viagogo on March 3 to buy two tickets to a Tool concert scheduled for April 19 in Tampa. She paid about $410 for the tickets, and never heard from Viagogo when the concert was canceled, according to the suit.

Despite contacting Viagogo multiple times from April through July, Shiflett claims Viagogo just informed her that the tickets would remain good for the concert once it was rescheduled. She was told that Viagogo could not cancel her order or give her a refund, according to the suit.

Representatives for the parties did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

Viagogo is far from the only ticket marketplace to face a lawsuit over refunds in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

In April, a pair of baseball fans hit MLB, all its teams and online ticket sellers with a proposed class action in California federal court seeking refunds for fans across the country who purchased tickets to games that were postponed indefinitely due to the pandemic. Ticketmaster and StubHub argued that the fans have to arbitrate their claims, while the MLB in July said the claims should be tossed as moot because refunds or credits have already been issued.

Ticketmaster and Live Nation were also hit with a proposed class action in California federal court in April over their refund policies for events postponed due to COVID-19. The suit claims the companies are making customers eat the costs of thousands of disrupted events by retroactively changing their refund policies. The ticket sellers have since filed a motion to compel arbitration, according to court records.

Also in April, SXSW LLC was hit by a suit in Texas federal court by ticket holders who allege the festival's organizers refused to refund would-be attendees' ticket money.

Shiflett is represented by Scott Edelsberg of Edelsberg Law PA and Gary F. Lynch, Jamisen A. Etzel and Nicholas A. Colella of Carlson Lynch LLP.

Counsel information for Viagogo was not immediately available.

The suit is Lauren Shiflett v. Viagogo Entertainment Inc., case number 8:20-cv-01880, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

--Additional reporting by Benjamin Horney, Zachary Zagger and Craig Clough. Editing by Alanna Weissman.

For a reprint of this article, please contact reprints@law360.com.

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