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Judge Rules Stubhub Did Not Inflate Ticket Prices

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A federal judge dismissed a case accusing Stubhub of inflating ticket prices to Philadelphia Phillies' games.

Joseph Faboozi sued Stubhub under Pennsylvania's ticket statute and California's unfair competition law. He claimed Stubhub did not disclose the established and maximum premium price on re-issued tickets for a game that he bought in May 2011. Faboozi said he bought two tickets for $75 each, plus other fees that brought the total to $170.20.

The court accepted Stubhub's argument that the Pennsylvania ticket statute, "by its plain language," does not apply to Internet resale transactions like those that take place on Stubhub.

Federal Judge Edward Chen noted that the statute exempts Stubhub from "any requirement to print pricing information on re-sold tickets as long as those tickets are sold online."

According to the ruling, Faboozi failed to address Stubhub's argument that provisions requiring re-sellers to conspicuously display a price list with the established price and the actual charged price for each ticket, and to not assist unlicensed re-sellers, do not apply because Stubhub is not a re-seller and re-sellers using its site are not required to be licensees.

The court further wrote that Faboozi appeared to waive his claims under the fraudulent prong of the unfair competition and even if the claims were not waived Chen found that Faboozi's argument "lacks merit" as the Pennsylvania statute expressly exempts disclosures of pricing information and even if it did not, "Stubhub has submitted numerous screenshots of its website demonstrating that it effectively discloses the information."

Chen commented that "so long as purchasers of tickets are getting exactly what they paid for -- genuine tickets -- at a price they are willing to pay, it is hard to understand how such a transaction could be unfair".

He therefore rejected Faboozi's argument that Stubhub's failure to disclose the established price and maximum premium creates "artificial demand" and "forces customers to pay higher ticket prices to Phillies' games."

In any case Faboozi did not receive the re-issued tickets until after he had agreed to pay the purchase price. The alleged unfair conduct was Stubhub's failure to print pricing information on the tickets. Faboozi bought the tickets before seeing them.

"Thus it is difficult to see how omitting information from tickets could have caused the harm Plaintiff alleges," according to the ruling.

"Plaintiff bought the tickets before seeing them. Whether they contained the established price did not matter as Plaintiff had already made the purchase," wrote Chen.

In the end, as Stubhub argued, the pre-tax $75 Faboozi paid for each ticket did not exceed the maximum premium of his tickets anyway.

The court also noted that Faboozi could have avoided paying above face value if he had looked at the established price on the venue's website as Stubhub recommends.

Finally, Chen refused to grant leave to amend, finding that such action would be futile.

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