The Arkansas Supreme Court today ruled in a split decision that Ticketmaster is subject to the state’s anti-scalping law when it is the exclusive agent for ticket sales at such venues as Verizon Arena.
The opinion, written by Justice Karen Baker, is
advisory guidance requested by a federal court considering a class action lawsuit over Ticketmaster charges. The state Supreme Court emphasized that it had not been asked to consider — nor had it answered — the questions of whether the additional charges added to the face value of tickets by Ticketmaster amounted to scalping or a violation of state deceptive trade practices law. The court majority concedes those questions are “intertwined” with the question it answered. It goes on to say that the only charge an exclusive agent is able to add is a “reasonable” amount for handling and credit card use. But it said the statute was unambiguous in not exempting exclusive agents.
Strong dissents came from Justice Robert Brown, who called it an “absurd” result, and from Chief Justice Jim Hannah. Hannah said the court had moved beyond interpreting law to legislating. He said the statute wasn’t intended to cover exclusive agents.