Scalping suit filed against Ticketmaster in Canada

VANCOUVER, British Columbia Mon Feb 9, 2009 11:58pm GMT

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc was hit with a C$500 million ($410 million) lawsuit in Canada on Monday, alleging the company broke the law by reselling tickets at inflated prices.

A Toronto man who tried to buy two tickets to a November 2008 concert by the band Smashing Pumpkins alleges Ticketmaster's website said none were available, but redirected him to the website of the company's TicketsNow resale unit.

The tickets had a face value of C$66.50 each, but Henry Krajewski said he ended up paying a total of C$533.65 for the pair because he had to buy them through TicketsNow, according to the lawsuit filed in Ontario Superior Court.

The suit, which seeks to be declared a class action, alleges Ticketmaster violated an Ontario law against ticket scalping. Ontario is one of three Canadian provinces with laws against reselling tickets on the secondary market at more than their face value.

The C$500 million in damages is based on Ticketmaster's expected revenue during the time it will likely take the case to makes its way through the courts, according to one of Krajewski's lawyers.

The suit also says the court could order the company to pay damages equal to the amount of any overcharges. It also asks that the company be blocked from distributing tickets at higher prices than they were first issued at.

A Ticketmaster spokesman was not available for comment on Monday. Ticketmaster and rival Live Nation Inc are currently in merger talks that would create a music industry powerhouse with a combined market value of over $700 million, a source briefed on the talks told Reuters last week.

The suit mirrors complaints in the United States that people trying to buy tickets to singer Bruce Springsteen's current tour were redirected to Ticketmaster's TicketsNow site, where they were available at much higher prices.

(Reporting Allan Dowd, Additional reporting by Michael Erman in New York, editing by Rob Wilson and Andre Grenon)

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