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Batson v. Live Nation Entm't, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

November 14, 2013, Argued; March 25, 2014, Decided

No. 13-1560

Opinion

 [*829]  Wood, Chief Judge. James Batson walked up to Live Nation's box office at the Charter One Pavilion in Chicago and purchased a non-refundable ticket to see O.A.R., a popular American rock band. Ticket in hand, he realized that the ticket price included a $9 parking fee for  [**2] a spot he did not want. Believing that the bundled $9 fee was fundamentally unfair, he sued on behalf of himself and a proposed class.

Batson's original complaint alleged claims under federal antitrust and California unfair competition law. When Live Nation moved to dismiss that action, Batson responded with an amended complaint, which the district court accepted. The amended complaint dropped the federal antitrust and California unfair competition theories. Relying on the jurisdiction supplied by the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(1), Batson substituted a single claim that Live Nation had committed an unfair practice in violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act (Consumer Fraud Act or Act), 815 ILCS 505/2. (Batson is a citizen of New York; each of the defendant corporations is incorporated in Delaware and has its principal place of business in California.) The amended complaint criticizes the 2010 merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster (a transaction that was not blocked by the Department of Justice), but its primary target is Live Nation's tying of a parking charge to each concert ticket. Batson insists that the mandatory parking  [**3] fee is unfair under the Consumer Fraud Act because it forces consumers to purchase the parking or forego the concert. Live Nation again moved to dismiss, arguing this time that Batson failed to state a claim under the Consumer Fraud Act under the standards set out by the Supreme Court of Illinois in Robinson v. Toyota Motor Credit Corp., 201 Ill. 2d 403, 775 N.E.2d 951, 266 Ill. Dec. 879 (Ill. 2002). The district court agreed and dismissed, and Batson now appeals. We affirm.

The facts underlying Batson's complaint are straightforward. On July 10, 2010, Batson purchased a ticket for a concert by O.A.R. from Live Nation's box office at the  [*830]  Charter One Pavilion in Chicago. After the transaction was complete, Batson spotted on the face of the ticket a notation that a $9 parking fee was included in the price. Indeed, it is undisputed that every single ticket sold for that concert reflected the same information: of the total price, $9 was designated as a parking fee, whether or not the buyer needed to park a car. Batson had no car to park; he had walked from downtown Chicago to the concert venue and had bought the ticket immediately before the concert. As far as we know, Batson attended the concert, but the sting of the mandatory  [**4] parking fee stayed with him, leading to this lawsuit.

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746 F.3d 827 *; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 5499 **; 2014-1 Trade Cas. (CCH) P78,720; 2014 WL 1203209

JAMES BATSON, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. LIVE NATION ENTERTAINMENT, INC., et al., Defendants-Appellees.

Prior History:  [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 11 C 1226 — Gary S. Feinerman, Judge.

Batson v. Live Nation Entm't, Inc., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34424 (N.D. Ill., Mar. 13, 2013)

CORE TERMS

ticket, concert, unfair, Consumer Fraud Act, consumers, parking, tying arrangement, anti trust law, public policy, parking fees, violates, antitrust, district court, oppressive, musical, walking, polygraphs, diversity, diamond

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, Antitrust & Trade Law, Trade Practices & Unfair Competition, State Regulation, Scope, Claims, Regulated Practices, Federal Trade Commission Act, Price Fixing & Restraints of Trade, Tying Arrangements, General Overview, Sherman Act Violations