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Madonna hit with fresh concert lawsuit

Madonna has been hit with yet another lawsuit over her Celebration Tour – this time alleging false advertising and unwanted exposure to sexual content.

Justen Lipeles, who attended the singer’s 7 March concert at Los Angeles’ Kia Forum, has filed a class action suit accusing the Queen of Pop of breach of written contract, negligent misrepresentation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false advertising, negligence/negligent infliction of emotional distress and unfair competition.

“During the performance plaintiff was forced to watch topless women on stage simulating sex acts,” reads the filing. “Plaintiff felt like he was watching a pornographic film being made.

Legal documents seen by the Guardian and The Blast show the plaintiff also accuses the Queen of Pop of lip-syncing and says he became ill in the heat after the star ordered the venue’s air conditioning to be shut off,

“The temperature inside the Kia Forum was uncomfortably hot as required by Madonna who refused to allow the air conditioning to be turned on,” continues the suit. “Further, during most of the performance it was apparent to plaintiff that Madonna was lip-syncing.”

Echoing other complaints filed against Madonna in Washington D.C. and New York over her alleged tardiness, Lipeles also says the gig did not begin until 10pm despite being advertised as starting at 8.30pm.

“Forcing consumers to wait hours in hot, uncomfortable arenas and subjecting them to pornography without warning is demonstrative of Madonna’s flippant disrespect for her fans”

“Defendants did not provide any notice to plaintiff that the concert will start at a later time,” continues the suit, which also names promoter Live Nation as a defendant. “Forcing consumers to wait hours in hot, uncomfortable arenas and subjecting them to pornography without warning is demonstrative of Madonna’s flippant disrespect for her fans.”

Madonna and Live Nation are yet to comment on the lawsuit.

Earlier this year, fans in Washington D.C. filed a lawsuit against Madonna for her late appearances at her December 2023 concerts in the city’s Capital One Arena They claimed that by starting her shows over two hours behind schedule, she showed “total disrespect for her fans” and also say they were forced to wait for hours in a “hot, uncomfortable arena,” claiming that Madonna herself had insisted on the temperature.

The case followed a similar filing by two fans who attended one of the star’s three shows at New York’s Barclays Center, also in December.

The 80-date Celebration Tour generated $227.2 million from 1.1 million ticket sales, according to Pollstar data. The outing, which ran from October 2023 to May 2024, visited Europe and North America before finishing with the biggest concert of the American pop icon’s career – a free show attended by an estimated 1.6m people on Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 4 May.

Madonna has generated box office takings of $1.61 billion over her 12 tours, selling more than 12.6 million tickets over 650 shows.

 


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Astroworld: All wrongful death lawsuits settled

The one remaining wrongful death lawsuit filed over the Astroworld disaster has been settled, it has been announced.

Ten people died and hundreds more were injured during the fatal crowd crush at the November 2021 festival at NRG Park in Houston, Texas, US.

The final case to be settled involved the family of Ezra Blount, a nine-year-old from Dallas who was the youngest person killed during the concert by rapper Travis Scott.

Blount’s family had sued Scott, festival promoter Live Nation and other companies and individuals connected to the event, including Apple Inc., which livestreamed the concert.

The final case to be settled involved the family of Ezra Blount, the youngest person killed during Astroworld

Jury selection for the trial was scheduled to begin on 10 September but an attorney for Blount’s family said a settlement was reached last week, according to AP. The other nine wrongful death lawsuits filed over Astroworld were settled earlier this month.

Terms of the settlements in all 10 lawsuits were confidential. Attorneys for Live Nation, Scott and others have declined to comment during the case because of a gag order that limits what they can say outside court.

So far, no lawsuit has gone before a jury but around 2,400 injury cases filed after the deadly concert remain pending. More than 4,000 plaintiffs filed hundreds of lawsuits after the Astroworld crowd crush.

Earlier this month, state District Judge Kristen Hawkins, who is presiding over the litigation, had scheduled the first trial, focusing on seven injury cases, for 15 October. It is not clear if that trial date will remain or be moved up with the settlement in the Blount lawsuit.

In June last year, a grand jury declined to indict Scott, nor anyone else associated with the festival.

 


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Live Nation fires back at DOJ antitrust lawsuit

Live Nation’s Dan Wall has insisted there is no “good faith argument” to break up the company with Ticketmaster amid the fallout from the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) antitrust lawsuit.

Wall, the company’s EVP, regulatory affairs, joined president/CFO Joe Berchtold on a call with investors to discuss the suit, which accuses LN and Ticketmaster, who merged in 2010, of engaging “in a variety of tactics to eliminate competition and monopolise markets”.

The DOJ’s allegations include acquiring competitors and competitive threats, restricting artists’ access to venues, threatening and retaliating against venues that work with rivals, locking out competition with exclusive contracts and blocking venues from using multiple ticketing firms. It also claims the firm “exploits” its relationship with venue giant Oak View Group (OVG).

Live Nation’s share price dropped in the wake of yesterday’s (23 May) announcement but has since stabilised.

Speaking to shareholders on the regulatory update call, Berchtold said he had been optimistic of reaching a resolution with the DOJ prior to the filing in the United States District Court Southern District of New York.

“We didn’t see any of the issues to be structural or fundamental to the nature of the makeup of the company,” he said. “[We] saw them all as discrete business practices and were hopeful that, because of that, we would be able to reach a settlement. Obviously, that wasn’t their agenda, ultimately, and we are where we are today.”

“It is exactly the concerns that were considered by the Obama administration 15 years ago, and that are covered by the consent decree”

Berchtold suggested one area of “disconnect” with the DOJ centred on the definition of competition in the marketplace.

“In our mind, competition is competing in the promotion side with the artist as the consumer, and then that artist very effectively engages multiple bidders to compete for their services,” he said. “The artist takes an increasing portion of the money from the show, and they are the beneficiary of that competition.

“The DOJ has a different view in terms of holding us accountable for the service fees and the ticket prices, even though we’re not the beneficiary to the largest extent of either those numbers. We don’t unilaterally make the decision on what those numbers are going to be; they’re driven primarily by the venues and by the promoter. So we clearly don’t agree with them in terms of the fundamental of the assertions that they’re making.”

Wall, who joined Live Nation last year after more than 12 years as a key advisor to the firm, alluded to US attorney general’s Merrick Garland’s statement that it was “time to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster”.

“It is exactly the concerns that were considered by the Obama administration 15 years ago, and that are covered by the consent decree,” he argued. “And in those circumstances, we just don’t believe that there’s really any good faith argument to be made here that there could be a breakup. However, we all know that that’s what the most effective way to get the big headlines was and I think that that’s why we’re seeing that. It’s very unfortunate.

“There’s never been a circumstance where the DOJ allowed a merger to happen under a consent decree with behavioural remedies, which it said was an effective remedy, and then came back later and tried to say that that should be broken up.”

“We will make every effort to try to get this case to trial in a year”

Addressing the likely timescale of the case, Wall said: “We will move this along as quickly as we can. We will make every effort to try to get this case to trial in a year, or if not in a year, a year and a half, and certainly not long after that. We’re committed to putting the resources in to get that done and getting this behind us because we feel very confident about about our position on these claims.”

He was also critical of the DOJ’s demand for a jury trial, dismissing the move as a “stunt”.

“This is a stunt, a strategy that the DOJ used in the Google ad-tech case, and it’s highly unusual in that antitrust cases like this, historically, have always been tried to to judges rather than juries – because when the government is the plaintiff, it is seeking injunctive relief and all claims for injunctive relief are tried by judges rather than juries.

“It seems like a pretty transparent effort to try to avoid the scrutiny of a judge. And I don’t think it’s necessarily a smart move, because the very first message that you send to the judge is that you don’t really want him or her to have control over the outcome of this, and that’s not a very smart message to send a judge at the beginning of a case.”

Wall was also asked about the implications for the lawsuit of a potential administration change, should Donald Trump return to the White House following November’s US election.

“That’s a tough one, for sure,” he said. “If we just kind of go back in time and you asked me whether I think that the first Trump administration would have brought this case, I would tell you that I don’t think that any prior administration – Republican or Democrat – would have brought this case. But the circumstances, looking to the future, it would depend a lot on who was appointed to these positions, and that just makes it kind of vulnerable.”

“Live Nation has scolded Oak View Group multiple times for trying to compete”

The 128-page filing makes reference to LN’s relationship with OVG, which it describes as a “potential-competitor-turned-partner that has described itself as a ‘hammer’ and ‘protect[or]’ for Live Nation.

“In recent years, Oak View Group has avoided bidding against Live Nation for artist talent and influenced venues to sign exclusive agreements with Ticketmaster,” it states. “For example, Live Nation has scolded Oak View Group multiple times for trying to compete. In one instance, Live Nation asked, ‘who would be so stupid to… play into [an artist agent’s] arms,’ and on another occasion, Live Nation stated, ‘let’s make sure we don’t let [the artist agency] now start playing us off.’

“Live Nation and Oak View Group have colluded and established a partnership to allocate business lines, avoid competing with each other, and chart a mutually beneficial plan to cement Live Nation’s dominance.”

Wall has contested the claims in a lengthy blog, pointing out that OVG is a venue management company rather than a concert promoter.

“DOJ’s claim is based on two incidents in which Live Nation and OVG were discussing what to do when an OVG venue wanted to book on occasional show itself on a dark night,” he continued. “To portray that as an agreement not to compete in concert promotion is farcical.

“Regardless, OVG’s behaviour as a venue operator is fully consistent with every major arena and stadium in the country – they need to have an in house booker who helps fill otherwise dark nights, but they have no interest in systematically taking on the risk of guarantees that could be in the millions of dollars for a show or tens of millions of dollars for a tour.”

“There is no truth that this brief exchange had anything to do with Silver Lake’s decision to sell its stake in TEG”

In another startling allegation, it says that LN threatened commercial retaliation against private equity firm Silver Lake in 2021, unless the latter’s subsidiary TEG stopped competing with Live Nation for artist promotion contracts in the
US. It claims that the threats “ultimately succeeded, and Silver Lake has tried to sell TEG altogether”.

“This claim reveals not only a disregard for the facts, but also deep hypocrisy,” replied Wall. “The current DOJ and FTC have been vocal critics of private equity companies making multiple investments in the same industry because of competitive ‘entanglements’. So was Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino when, after it had already made an investment in OVG, Silver Lake Partners decided to invest in the Australian live entertainment company, TEG.

“Rapino’s complaint was fundamentally the same as the DOJ/FTC concern with private equity rollups: it created a conflict between OVG, which had become a close partner to Live Nation, and TEG. So, in December 2021 when a TEG employee wrote to say that it did not intend to compete with Live Nation in the US, Rapino replied to Silver Lake’s management that he did not care about TEG, but still had a problem with Silver Lake’s decision to make multiple conflicting investments in the industry.

“There is no truth that this brief exchange had anything to do with Silver Lake’s decision to sell its stake in TEG.”

Elsewhere, Variety has published an article asking whether things would get better for fans in the event of a Live Nation-Ticketmaster breakup.

“In reality, music fans’ concerns boil down to one question: Would breaking up the two companies make the ticket-acquisition process less of a soul-crushing nightmare?” writes Jem Aswad. “In the short term anyway, the answer is pretty much no… In fact, the things that most enrage fans – cryptic ‘service’ fees, long wait times, the predatory secondary market and its bots that buy up blocks of tickets before ordinary humans can get near them – are outside the purview of the lawsuit.

“It also must be noted, as Live Nation often does, that Ticketmaster does not set ticket prices – artists or promoters do – and it does not charge the bulk of the service fees that so enrage fans (venues do).”

 


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DOJ sues Live Nation over alleged ‘monopoly’

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched a lawsuit which could seek to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster after alleging the company has violated antitrust laws.

The 128-page filing accuses LN and Ticketmaster, who merged in 2010, of using their “power and influence” to “insert themselves at the centre and the edges of virtually every aspect of the live music ecosystem”. Live Nation’s EVP, regulatory affairs, Dan Wall has issued a response, contesting the claims.

The suit, which had been expected for several weeks, was filed today (23 May) in the United States District Court Southern District of New York. It states that Live Nation directly manages more than 400 musical artists and controls around 60% of concert promotions at major venues across the country, as well as owning or controlling more than 265 concert venues in North America.

“This has given Live Nation and Ticketmaster the opportunity to freeze innovation and bend the industry to their own benefit,” it claims. “While this may be a boon to Live Nation’s bottom line, there is a real cost to Americans.

“Through a self-reinforcing ‘flywheel’ that Live Nation-Ticketmaster created to connect their multiple interconnected businesses and interests, Live Nation and Ticketmaster have engaged in numerous forms of anticompetitive conduct.”

In adds that LN controls “roughly 80% or more” of primary ticketing for major concert venues via Ticketmaster, plus a “growing share” of the resale market.

“Live Nation’s monopoly, and the anticompetitive conduct that protects and maintains its monopoly, strikes a chord precisely because the industry at stake is one that has for generations inspired, entertained, and challenged Americans,” it continues. “Conduct that subverts competition here not only harms the structure of the live music industry and the countless people that work in that industry, but also damages the foundation of creative expression and art that lies at the heart of our personal, social, and political lives.”

“We allege that Live Nation relies on unlawful, anticompetitive conduct to exercise its monopolistic control over the live events industry in the US”

Allegations include acquiring competitors and competitive threats, restricting artists’ access to venues, locking out competition with exclusive contracts and blocking venues from using multiple ticketing firms.

“We allege that Live Nation relies on unlawful, anticompetitive conduct to exercise its monopolistic control over the live events industry in the United States at the cost of fans, artists, smaller promoters, and venue operators,” says a statement from US attorney general Merrick Garland. “The result is that fans pay more in fees, artists have fewer opportunities to play concerts, smaller promoters get squeezed out, and venues have fewer real choices for ticketing services. It is time to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster.”

Dan Wall, LN’s EVP, corporate and regulatory affairs, has penned a lengthy response to the lawsuit, which he says comes in the wake of “intense political pressure on DOJ to file a lawsuit, and a long-term lobbying campaign from rivals and ticket brokers seeking government protection for themselves”.

Furthermore, Wall describes the claim that Live Nation and Ticketmaster are wielding monopoly power as “absurd”.

“The defining feature of a monopolist is monopoly profits derived from monopoly pricing,” he says. “Live Nation in no way fits the profile. Service charges on Ticketmaster are no higher than elsewhere, and frequently lower. And even accounting for sponsorship, an advertising business that helps keep ticket prices down, the company’s overall net profit margin is at the low end of profitable S&P 500 companies.

“Every year, competition in the industry drives Live Nation to earn lower take rates from both concert promotion and ticketing. The company is profitable and growing because it helps grow the industry, not because it has market power.”

“The world is a better place because of that merger, not a worse one”

In closing, Wall insists that Ticketmaster is “a far better, more artist and fan-focused business under Live Nation’s ownership than it ever was as a standalone company”.

“But that’s not how this DOJ sees it. They are reflexively antagonistic to vertical integration,” he says. “The Obama Administration saw it differently. It allowed Live Nation and Ticketmaster to merge, and in defending that position acknowledged that there was no legal basis for challenging the vertical aspects of the merger – specifically, allowing a large concert promoter to combine with a large ticketing company.

“In one filing, it said that it had ‘determined that it could not prove that the vertical integration resulting from the merger would significantly harm competition in the concert promotion market.’ There is no factual basis for concluding otherwise today. The world is a better place because of that merger, not a worse one.”

Live Nation president/CFO Joe Berchtold also discussed the then pending lawsuit during the company’s Q1 earnings call earlier this month.

“Based on the issues we know about, we don’t believe a breakup of Live Nation and Ticketmaster would be a legally permissible remedy,” he said. “Live Nation and Ticketmaster came together lawfully through a merger that the DOJ reviewed and approved subject to divestitures and other remedies. The DOJ has repeatedly stated in court filings that the merger and settlement were in the public interest.”

 


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Astroworld wrongful death lawsuit trial date set

A wrongful death lawsuit filed in relation to the youngest victim of the Astroworld tragedy is set to go to civil trial in September.

Nine-year-old Ezra Blount was one of 10 people killed in the deadly crowd crush at the festival, which was headlined by Travis Scott at NRG Park in Houston, Texas, US.

Blount’s family is suing Scott as well as companies including event promoter Live Nation and Apple Inc., which livestreamed the November 2021 concert.

AP reports that State District Judge Kristen Hawkins scheduled jury selection to start on 10 September. Scott West, a lawyer for Blount’s family, told the judge they still planned to depose Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino before the trial. Rapino had previously been ordered to give testimony in the lawsuits brought against LN and others.

Live Nation attorney Neal Manne previously fought attempts to have Rapino questioned, arguing that messages dated from prior to the festival proved that the CEO had no involvement in the planning of Astroworld. But lawyers for the plaintiffs said Rapino had correspondence and conversations with a number of people involved in the festival in the immediate aftermath, and as such his testimony is relevant to the litigation.

The lawsuit is the last remaining wrongful death filing relating to the disaster after nine of the 10 cases were settled

At the latest hearing on Tuesday (14 May), Manne said he hoped an agreement could be reached regarding Rapino’s deposition, but added he might still appeal the issue to the Texas Supreme Court.

The lawsuit is the last remaining wrongful death filing pertaining to the disaster after nine of the 10 cases were settled out of court. All of those who died suffered from compression asphyxia. The defendants deny allegations of negligence, among other claims.

Judge Hawkins also scheduled the first trial related to the thousands of injury complaints filed over Astroworld. The trial, which will focus on seven cases, has been set for 15 October. Around 2,400 other injury cases are still pending.

Last year, a grand jury declined to file criminal charges against Scott or anyone else associated with the festival.

 


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Travis Scott to face trial over Astroworld tragedy

A Texas judge has ruled Travis Scott must remain a defendant over Astroworld after denying the rapper’s attempts to be removed from civil litigation relating to the tragedy.

Ten people died and hundreds more were injured during the fatal crowd crush at the November 2021 festival at NRG Park in Houston, US.

In June last year, a grand jury declined to indict Scott, nor anyone else associated with the festival. However, more than 300 lawsuits were filed naming Scott, promoter Live Nation and other companies involved in the event.

Judge Kristen Brauchle Hawkins declined the requests of Scott and his touring company XX Global to be dismissed from the consolidated lawsuits, having previously rejected similar efforts by his Cactus Jack Enterprises and LaFlame Enterprises firms. A number of other parties including Apple, which livestreamed the concert, has also been ordered to face trial.

Houston Public Media reports that Scott’s legal team had argued that the 32-year-old was not in control of safety or security measures at the event, and therefore should not be held responsible for the casualties.

“This event was Travis Scott’s festival. It was created through his tour agreement with Live Nation”

“Like any other adrenaline-inducing diversion, music festivals must balance exhilaration with safety and security – but that balance is not the job of performing artists, even those involved in promoting and marketing performances,” said Scott’s attorney Daniel Petrocelli, as per Billboard. “Which only makes sense: Performing artists, even those who engage in certain promotional activities, have no inherent expertise or specialised knowledge in concert safety measures, venue security protocols, or site design.”

However, Noah Wexler, a lawyer for the family of one of the victims, Madison Dubiski, argued that Scott and Live Nation had joint control of various aspects of the show.

“This event was Travis Scott’s festival,” said Wexler during a court hearing last week. “It was created through his tour agreement with Live Nation.”

Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino has also been ordered to give testimony in the suits brought against his company and others by families of those who died. The first trial is due to begin in Houston on 6 May, while a number of cases have already been settled.

Earlier this month, Drake, who appeared as a special guest during Scott’s headline set, was dismissed from the lawsuits. The Harris County District Court of the 11th civil district granted Drake’s request for a summary judgment in the case and dismissed “all claims asserted against [Drake] by all plaintiffs and intervenors in this multidistrict litigation”. Attorneys for Drake had argued that since he was not involved in organising the concerts, he was not liable for the casualties that occurred.

 


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Madonna faces more legal woes over delayed gigs

Disgruntled fans in Washington D.C. have filed a lawsuit against Madonna for her late appearances at December concerts in the city’s Capital One Arena, claiming that by starting her shows over two hours behind schedule, she showed “total disrespect for her fans.”

They also say they were forced to wait for hours in a “hot, uncomfortable arena,” claiming that Madonna herself had insisted on the temperature. Their allegations include accusations of lip-syncing – another instance of false advertising, according to their lawyers.

The legal move follows a similar case filed by two fans who attended one of the star’s three shows at New York’s Barclays Center, also in December. The latest move to sue the star was filed on behalf of three unhappy fans at her two Washington concerts. Both suits have been brought by the same lawyers. Concert promoters Live Nation are named as a defendant in both cases.

In the D.C. complaint, the trio of fans state that the Queen of Pop started her 18 and 19 December performances at the Capital One Arena at 10:40pm, more than two hours after the advertised 8:30pm start time, which they say was “a wanton exercise in false advertising.”

“Forcing consumers to wait hours for her performance in a hot, uncomfortable arena is demonstrative of Madonna’s arrogant and total disrespect for her fans,” states the lawsuit.

“No reasonable concertgoer—and certainly no Madonna fan—would expect the headline act at a major arena concert to take the stage at the ticketed event time”

The Washington concerts plaintiffs – Elizabeth Halper-Asefi, Mary Conoboy, and Nestor Monte, Jr. – say, “This complaint is not about unhappy fans who don’t want to stay up late, but instead, reasonable, responsible people who had commitments to babysitters, work, getting their vehicles out of parking lots that closed at 12:00 midnight, and realizing that public transportation would no longer be operating.”

In response to the earlier New York lawsuit, Madonna and Live Nation’s lawyers claimed that fans attending concerts by the 65-year-old should not expect her, or any other headliner, to start the concerts at the advertised start time. “No reasonable concertgoer—and certainly no Madonna fan—would expect the headline act at a major arena concert to take the stage at the ticketed event time,” countered the defendants’ legal team, further arguing that fans cannot sue over something they were aware of before they bought their tickets.

However, in an effort to avoid similar arguments, the lawyers for the D.C. plaintiffs noted in court papers, “Reasonable consumers have seen that concerts featuring Taylor Swift and Bruce Springsteen, whose tours are also promoted by Live Nation, do start on the time indicated on the ticket and have similar experiences attending Broadway theater, NFL football and Major League baseball games.”

 


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DoJ ‘to file antitrust suit against Live Nation’

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) is expected to file an antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation in the coming weeks, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Citing anonymous sources, the WSJ reports that the suit – which could be filed as soon as next month – would claim the Ticketmaster parent has abused its market-leading position in the ticketing business to harm competition, although specific details of the lawsuit have not been confirmed.

In response to the report, a Ticketmaster spokesperson tells the publication: “Ticketmaster has more competition today than it has ever had, and the deal terms with venues show it has nothing close to monopoly power.”

Neither Live Nation or the DoJ have commented. However, LN president/CFO Joe Berchtold addressed the DoJ’s investigation in a recent interview at the Morgan Stanley’s Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco.

“We’re fully giving them everything they asked for and they’ll define the timetable,” he said. “Meanwhile, we’ll continue to run a great business. Again, I’ll say it over and over, our strategy, our culture, is to super-serve the artists. I don’t think we have anything to be ashamed of with having that as a strategy.

“I think that our structural behaviour is positive for the industry. Big is bad today, but I feel very good about how we are as a company trying to operate what we’re trying to do and what our opportunities are going forward.”

“The Ticketmaster of 2010 did not face the level of competition that we face today”

Speaking during the promoter’s earnings call in February, CEO Michael Rapino said Live Nation was “100% cooperative” with investigators following reports that the US Justice Department had sent out a new raft of information requests in connection with the probe.

Four years ago, a US district court issued a judgment extending the ‘consent decree’ governing the 2010 merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster to 2025. The DoJ alleged the firm had violated provisions of the decree on multiple occasions – claims that were strenuously denied by Live Nation.

Berchtold also defended Ticketmaster’s practices when appearing before a US Senate antitrust panel in early 2023, spurred by the fallout from the presale for Taylor Swift’s stadium tour.

“We hear people say that ticketing markets are less competitive today than they were at the time of the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger. That’s simply not true,” he argued. “The Ticketmaster of 2010 did not face the level of competition that we face today… Ticketmaster has lost, not gained, market share since the merger.”

While the company has come under increased scrutiny from lawmakers since the 2022 Eras Tour onsale, it is understood the DoJ inquiry predates the controversy.

 


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Festival organisers sued over fatal shooting

The families of two women killed in a shooting during last year’s Beyond Wonderland festival in the US are suing the event’s organisers and security companies.

The electronic music festival, which was promoted by Live Nation’s Insomniac subsidiary, was held last June at the 27,500-cap Gorge Amphitheatre, near George, Washington State, about 150 miles east of Seattle.

Attendees Brandy Escamilla and Josilyn Ruiz were shot by fellow festivalgoer James M. Kelly in the event’s campsite on the evening of 17 June 2024. Three other people were also injured. Following his arrest, Kelly allegedly told police he had ingested hallucinogenic mushrooms, retrieved a handgun and ammunition from his vehicle, which he had parked in the campground, and proceeded to open fire, striking several people and killing the victims, who were walking nearby.

Filed in King County, Washington by law firm Panish, Shea, Ravipudi (PSR), the complaint alleges that Live Nation “woefully fell short” in enforcing its policies prohibiting the possession of drugs and weapons on its premises and campgrounds.

“Never should someone’s life be taken so senselessly and tragically at a music event”

According to PSR, it is seeking to hold Live Nation, Insomniac and the security companies working the event “accountable for their egregiously deficient conduct and security protocols that resulted in the tragic deaths of these two women and injuries to three other people”.

“Live Nation has the means and the duty to make sure security is the highest priority for their concert patrons,” says a joint statement by the Escamilla and Ruiz families. “Never should someone’s life be taken so senselessly and tragically at a music event.”

Live Nation is yet to publicly respond to the lawsuit.

Kelly, a member of the US Army, has pleaded not guilty to all criminal charges in connection with the shooting and is due to go on trial in August.

 


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Drake removed from Astroworld lawsuits

Drake has been dismissed from lawsuits relating to the 2021 Astroworld festival tragedy.

Ten people died and hundreds more were injured during the fatal crowd crush at the November 2021 event in Houston, Texas. All of those who died suffered from compression asphyxia.

The Canadian rapper, real name Aubrey Graham, appeared as a special guest during festival founder Travis Scott’s headline set, but attorneys for Drake had argued that since he was not involved in organising the concerts, he was not liable for the casualties that occurred.

“Mr Graham did not receive any security briefings, was not informed of any crowd control issues, injuries or deaths in the crowd, or any stop show orders at any time either before or during his 14-minute performance,” wrote the star’s lawyers.

USA Today reports the Harris County District Court of the 11th civil district granted Drake’s request for a summary judgment in the case and dismissed “all claims asserted against [Drake] by all plaintiffs and intervenors in this multidistrict litigation”.

District judge Kristen Hawkins dismissed seven companies and individuals who had been sued, but denied motions to dismiss that were filed by 10 other companies and individuals, including Apple, which livestreamed the concert, and Scott’s company Cactus Jack Enterprises.

The first trial from the lawsuits is slated for 6 May

In June last year, a grand jury declined to indict Scott, nor anyone else associated with the festival. However, more than 300 lawsuits were filed naming Scott, promoter Live Nation and other companies involved in the event.

Almost 5,000 people have claimed they were injured in the disaster, with lawsuits filed in each of the 24 district courts in Harris County. Nearly every claim alleges negligence such as “failures of safety and security rules, crowd control and emergency response measures, and failures to provide adequate security, supervision, training and care”.

The first trial from the lawsuits is slated for 6 May, while a number of cases have already been settled.

According to court documents, the head of safety for the festival raised concerns about the number of people that could be near the stage, ten days before the event took place.

Earlier this month, a Texas judge ordered Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino to give testimony in the lawsuits brought against his company and others by families of those who died at the festival.

 


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