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StubHub Knocks Out Suit Over Misleading Tactics

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - StubHub will not face claims over alleged promises of authenticity it made to users who bought counterfeit tickets, a federal judge ruled.

Celina Porras failed to show that StubHub violated a law by hosting an advertisement for San Francisco 49ers tickets that turned out to be invalid. The website had even refunded the amount Porras paid for the tickets, plus service and delivery fees.

Porras claims she was removed by security about halfway through a Nov. 10, 2011, game between the 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Candlestick Park because her tickets were deemed invalid.

She had bought the tickets from StubHub and had also purchased two round-trip plane tickets from Los Angeles to attend the game.

Porras claimed that StubHub "makes numerous misrepresentations and guarantees on its website that a ticket purchased by a buyer will be authentic, and valid for entry, when, in fact, [StubHub] delivers tickets that are not authentic or valid."

StubHub also allegedly "misleads consumers to believe that payment of the Service Fee assures that tickets sold through its website will be authentic and valid for entry, when in reality, it does not."

She challenged StubHub's "FanProtect Guarantee" as "misleading because it implied that all tickets purchased on StubHub will be valid for entry."

U.S. District Judge Maxine Chesney noted Tuesday that StubHub is neither a ticket seller nor a ticket broker under California's ticket seller statute.

For this reason, Stubhub is also not liable for the $442.80 in travel expenses that Porras incurred.

Though Porras claimed that StubHub guarantees its tickets to be authentic, Chesney noted that online marketplace disclosed exactly what will happen if a user buys ultimately invalid tickets through its website.

As stated on the StubHub website, "If tickets are invalid and not honored by the venue ... the [b]uyer is encouraged to call StubHub customer service ... for assistance. ... StubHub will attempt to locate comparable replacement tickets for the buyer. If replacement tickets cannot be found, or if the [b]uyer is was not able to contact StubHub before the event, ... StubHub will issue the [b]uyer a refund for the full cost of the tickets, including service fees and shipping and handling charges."

Chesney wrote that an "ordinary customer reading the terms of StubHub's FanProtect Guarantee would recognize such guarantee would not exist unless there was a possibility that the tickets purchased might not be valid for entry. Moreover, Porras concedes that 'StubHub's ... FanProtect Guarantee acknowledges that tickets may not be valid or authentic."

Since Porras also received a full refund, Chesney ruled that "StubHub's conduct cannot be deemed 'immoral, unethical, oppressive, unscrupulous, ... substantially injurious' or otherwise 'unfair' under the" Unfair Competition Law.

Finding that StubHub acknowledged in express terms that the tickets might not be authentic, the judge also rejected Porras' claims under California's False Advertising Law.

While Porras claims StubHub also violated California's Consumer Legal Remedies Act, these allegations require "some form of misrepresentation, either as to the character of services provided or as to some other aspect of the transaction," according to the decision.

"As discussed above, StubHub fully discloses the terms of transactions consummate through its website, including the fact that tickets may not be valid for entry, and has acted in accordance with its FanProtect Guarantee by refunding Porras' ticket price and fees," Chesney wrote.

Porras has leave to amend the complaint. She is represented by Peter Mark Hart of Los Angeles.

StubHub is represented by Liani Kotcher of Weil Gotshal and Manges of Redwood Shores, Calif.

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