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Viagogo argues against class action status for lawsuit over its COVID cancellations policy

By | Published on Thursday 10 June 2021


Viagogo is trying to stop a lawsuit filed over its COVID cancellation policies in Florida from being granted US-wide class action status.

There have been a number of lawsuits regarding ticket refunds during the COVID pandemic, of course. Disputes usually arise when events are significantly postponed – as they have been over the last fifteen months – and relate to whether or not ticket buyers are due refunds, even if an event hasn’t been officially cancelled. The actual legal obligations of promoters and ticket agents vary from country to country.

Though, whatever the rules say, things are always more complicated when ticket touts and secondary ticketing websites are involved, because there are more entities sitting between the event promoter and the actual ticket buyer.

Viagogo was sued last year by Lauren Shiflett, who had bought tickets for a COVID-affected Tool show via the site. Her lawsuit stated: “Even though many thousands of events have been cancelled, Viagogo wrongly refuses to classify events as ‘cancelled’ allowing it to maintain dominion and control over … funds which it has no legal right to possess or use for its own business purposes”.

The lawsuit accused Viagogo of breach of contract and unjust enrichment, as well as violations under Florida’s Deceptive And Unfair Trade Practices Act. It also sought class action status within the state of Florida.

According to Law360, the secondary ticketing company previously but unsuccessfully tried to have the lawsuit dismissed or at least its class action status within Florida denied.

Then last month Shiflett sought to extend her litigation so to represent a class of Viagogo customers from all over the US. In a new legal filing, Viagogo presents an assortment of arguments as to why the court should deny that request.

That includes the fact that Viagogo customers with tickets to COVID-affected events have often been offered a voucher worth 125% of the original ticket purchase, and the court would need to identify which class members would prefer to take the voucher than a cash refund. And also that Shiflett has not, it reckons, provided sufficient analysis of the impact different state laws around the US could have on the claims of any nationwide class.

“This court must perform a ‘rigorous analysis’ to determine whether plaintiff met her evidentiary burden in demonstrating that class treatment is appropriate”, the ticket resale firm says in its new legal filing, before boldly stating: “Plaintiff fails this rigorous analysis”.