Ticketmaster's Arbitration Policy Again Enforced in Dispute Over Pandemic Refund Policy

Rage Against The Machine in Concert
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

Ticketmaster has convinced another California federal judge that fans who are unhappy over pandemic-related event cancellations and delays have to arbitrate their claims, this time in a suit from a fan who was angry about not getting a refund for tickets to a Rage Against the Machine concert that was indefinitely postponed.

In April, Derek Hansen sued Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, claiming the site retroactively changed its refund policy to exclude postponed events after the novel coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. (Ticketmaster president Jared Smith responded to public criticism in a letter to Billboard.)

Ticketmaster filed a motion to compel arbitration. It argued that Hansen, like anyone else who buys concert tickets through its site, agreed to its terms of use, which contains an arbitration agreement.

In September, both Ticketmaster and StubHub prevailed on similar motions in disputes brought by baseball fans. There, U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer found that the click-through agreements users interact with while signing in to the site and buying tickets are sufficient to provide notice of the policy and constitute mutual assent to an arbitration agreement.

That's one of the arguments Hansen made here; he didn't read the terms of use and was unaware it included an arbitration provision and therefore he couldn't have assented.

U.S. District Judge Edward M. Chen isn't buying it.

While California law requires mutual assent to form a contract, Chen notes that it's been previously established in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that Ticketmaster's notice of its terms of use is conspicuous on its sign-in page and held that a user "'cannot avoid the terms of [the] contract on the ground that he ...  failed to read it before signing,' especially when he 'had a legitimate opportunity to review it.'"

Read the full decision below.