A wheelchair-bound Pennsylvania man claims in a proposed class action lawsuit filed late last week that defendant Live Nation Worldwide, Inc.’s policies and practices regarding the sale of tickets for wheelchair-accessible seating violate federal law.
The plaintiff, who claims protection under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), alleges he tried to buy wheelchair-accessible tickets to a concert through one of Live Nation’s websites, but was unable to successfully make the transaction because of the company’s non-compliance with the ADA.
Plaintiff: Live Nation Doesn’t Sell Wheelchair-Accessible Seating During Pre-Sales
The plaintiff attempted to buy pre-sale tickets to a September 2017 Counting Crows concert through the defendant’s Ticketmaster website on March 28, 2017. According to the lawsuit, tickets were to go on sale to the general public on March 31. Upon entering the presale code “CROWS17” on Ticketmaster.com, the defendant attempted to buy an accessible wheelchair seat and a companion seat, but was unable to make the purchase, instead receiving the message, “Sorry we don’t have any accessible seating available at the moment,” the complaint says.
The case claims the plaintiff then called the defendant’s help line for assistance and was told Live Nation does not sell accessible seating during pre-sales. When the man later called the concert venue, Key Bank Pavilion, directly, he was again told accessible seating was not available during pre-sale, according to the suit. The plaintiff repeated this activity more than once, the lawsuit says, but was given a different answer the next time he called the defendant’s help line.
“At this point, [the plaintiff] was told that all accessible seating was sold out,” the lawsuit says. “[The plaintiff] pointed out that this representation was inconsistent with what he had been told by [the defendant’s] other help line employees.”
After again calling the venue directly, the plaintiff was allegedly told that he had to wait until tickets went on general sale to buy accessible seating.
According to the suit, the plaintiff eventually did get a response from a venue employee, that stated, in part:
“We are terribly sorry you are having issues with ordering accessible seats through our Ticketmaster website. If you like we can see if we can assist you with placing 2 accessible seats on hold for you. Please reply to this email . . .and we will complete your request right away.”
The problem with this response, the lawsuit alleges, is that the particular location of the accessible seating was particularly important to the plaintiff since he “is susceptible to sensory seizures.”
“Thus, he needed to actually see what specific accessible seats were being offered in order to assess their suitability,” case says.
A History of Non-Compliance?
The lawsuit takes direct aim at Live Nation’s (and its predecessors’) allegedly spotty track record of non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The company has allegedly made a habit of reneging on various injunctive agreements reached over the years to ensure individuals protected under the ADA are given proper preference.
“[The plaintiff’s] experiences are not an aberration,” the complaint states. “[Live Nation’s] policies, practices and procedures regarding the sale of accessible tickets have been inadequate since at least as early as the late 1990s and as a result [the defendant] has routinely violated the ADA over an extended period of time notwithstanding repeated formal agreements to come into compliance with applicable laws and regulations.”
The complaint describes a 2005 settlement agreement between Live Nation and the U.S. Department of Justice related to the company’s alleged indifference toward making sure its accessible seating practices abide by federal law.
Live Nation has allegedly continued its unlawful practices in spite of this settlement, and was sued in 2012 over alleged accessible seating issues at the Walt Disney Concert Hall and another Los Angeles venue. That lawsuit also settled.
“Robust” Monitoring Sought by Suit
The injunctive relief sought by the proposed class action includes “robust” monitoring and/or auditing of Live Nation to ensure it “actually follows any injunctive mandate” handed down by the court as a result of the litigation.
Through the action, the plaintiff seeks a permanent injunction requiring Live Nation to:
Modify its policies and practices regarding the sale of accessible tickets online and at its venues to provide proposed class members with full and equal access
Allow experts selected by the plaintiff’s legal counsel to monitor the defendant’s policies and procedures online and at its venues to ensure court orders are actually followed
Who Does the Suit Hope to Cover?
The lawsuit seeks to cover a proposed class of wheelchair users nationwide who have attempted, and/or will attempt to purchase accessible and/or companion seating through Live Nation Worldwide’s websites or through one of its venues.
Defendant Live Nation Worldwide, Inc. owns and operates more than 100 entertainment venues nationwide and sells tickets through websites such as Ticketmaster.com, LiveNation.com, and TicketWeb.com, according to the complaint.