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Federal Court Green Lights Live Nation’s Mandatory Parking Fees

Posted  April 3, 2013

An Illinois federal judge has dismissed a class action alleging that Live Nation Entertainment Inc. illegally tied mandatory parking fees to concert tickets, finding that neither the $9 fee nor Live Nation’s economic power were significant enough to warrant action under antitrust and consumer protection laws.

Judge Gary Feinerman of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois threw out plaintiff’s claims in Batson v. Live Nation Entertainment Inc. et al., after ruling that Live Nation’s $9 parking fee – which is imposed on each concert-goer regardless of whether he or she drives to the concert – does not violate either antitrust laws or the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act (the “ICFA”).

Plaintiff James Batson attended a concert by the musical group O.A.R. in July 2010.  Batson’s ticket, which he purchased directly from the Live Nation box office at Chicago’s Charter One Pavilion, stated “$9 PRK PAID”.

Although Batson walked to the concert, the parking fee was included in the price of his ticket.  He was not informed of the fee at the time of purchase, and there was no way for him to transfer the $9 amount to another service or a voucher certificate to park at the venue during a future event.

The original complaint argued Live Nation’s monopoly in the entertainment promotion and ticket sales market allowed it to illegally tie products and charge unnecessary fees in violation of federal antitrust law and the California unfair competition statute.

After defendants filed their motion to dismiss, Batson amended his complaint to drop the antitrust and California law claims, and to allege that Live Nation’s parking fee violates various public policies (including public policies against tying arrangements and drunk driving), and thus should be considered unfair under the ICFA.

The court held that Batson had failed to show any violation of public policy, and thus could not establish any violation of the ICFA by Live Nation.

Judge Feinerman found Live Nation’s parking fee cannot violate public policy against tying because Live Nation does not have a significant share of the parking market, and the fee does not restrict competition in the parking market.

The court also found that the fee did not violate public policies favoring clean transportation and against drunk driving.  Judge Feinerman did not find it plausible that the $9 fee would cause concert-goers to drink and drive rather than walk to the concert.  “That certainly is not what Batson did; he walked to the concert, bought his ticket, and then did not go back home, pick up his car, and claim his rightful parking space.”

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