Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ticket Scalping Law Remains Unclear

The issue of what fees are allowable under MGL c.140 s.185D, the ticket scalping law, is not yet resolved. In Herman v. Admit One Ticket Agency, the SJC ruled today that the plaintiff, who had not actually purchased a ticket, lacked standing. The court acknowledged that "Requiring a prospective buyer to purchase an illegally priced ticket would effectively preclude those unable to pay an unlawful ticket price from seeking redress for a defendant's unfair conduct...Thus, where, as here, a c. 93A action is directly or indirectly based on a statute regulating the price of a particular product or service to be sold to a consumer, a plaintiff normally has standing to assert a c. 93A claim if he or she is ready, willing, and able to purchase the product or service at a price consistent with the relevant statute."

However, "Given the complexity of determining the amount of fees a ticket reseller may legitimately charge, proof of standing, normally a threshold issue,... requires essentially a prima facie case. The cost of litigation is dear, considerably greater than the cost of a ticket. In order to keep a proper perspective on the merits of the case, and in light of the variable nature of the fees a ticket reseller may impose pursuant to § 185D, we hold that to obtain standing, a plaintiff must purchase a ticket to maintain a c. 93A claim premised on a violation of the policy embodied in § 185D. "

In dissent, Justice Cowin wrote "the court demands that, in order to obtain standing, the plaintiff must show in advance that he will win the case."