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StubHub Covid-19 Ticket Refund Suits Sent to California

Aug. 6, 2020, 4:36 PM

Federal suits alleging StubHub Inc. wrongfully changed its refund policies for events cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic will be combined in a California federal court, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation said Thursday.

Centralization in one court will eliminate duplicative discovery, avoid inconsistent pretrial rulings, particularly on class certification, and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel, and the judiciary, the panel said.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, where four proposed class suits against StubHub are already pending and where StubHub is based, is an appropriate district for the litigation, the panel said.

But the panel declined to create an industry-wide MDL that would also include suits against Vivid Seats LLC and SeatGeek Inc., finding “few efficiencies” would be gained with such a combined proceeding.

All defendants are separate businesses that employed different terms of use, different arbitration agreements, different marketing, and different choice of law provisions, it said.

Plaintiffs alleged StubHub, which reportedly touts itself as the “world’s largest ticket marketplace,” for years prior to Covid-19 had assured customers, via its “FanProtect Guarantee,” that ticket purchasers would receive full refunds for cancelled events.

But StubHub announced earlier this year it would issue a 120% credit instead of a refund when an event was cancelled, regardless of the purchase date, the suits said. StubHub allegedly later offered the choice of a refund only to customers in 14 states with consumer protection laws that require refunds.

Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr. will preside over the combined StubHub litigation, which also will include two additional suits that were filed in other districts.

The panel said it’s “typically skeptical of requests to centralize claims filed against multiple defendants who are competitors in a single MDL.”

In light of the concerns about the spread of Covid-19, the panel heard oral argument by videoconference at its July 30 hearing session.

For additional legal resources, visit Bloomberg Law In Focus: Coronavirus (Bloomberg Law Subscription).

The case is In re StubHub Refund Litig., J.P.M.L., No. No. 2951, 8/6/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Steinberg in Washington at jsteinberg@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com

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