Bowery Presents Avoids Arbitration In Ticket Case

The Bowery Presents LLC v. Pires, No. 653377/2012, NYLJ 1202608931096, at *1 (Sup. Ct., N.Y. Co. decided June 24, 2013) (Bransten, J.S.C.).

Bowery Presents, a concert promoter, moved to stay arbitration that had been filed by the respondent ticket purchaser on the basis that Bowery Presents was not a party to an arbitration agreement with the respondent.  The Court granted the motion and stayed arbitration.

Bowery Presents had entered into a written License Agreement with Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. (d/b/a Ticketmaster) ("Ticketmaster") under which Ticketmaster was to act as Bowery's agent for the sale and distribution of tickets to entertainment events.   Bowery Presents was the promoter for a March 28, 2012 event to which the respondent purchased a ticket through the Ticketmaster website.  In order to purchase her ticket, Respondent was required to agree to the "Terms of Use" on Ticketmaster's website. The Terms of Use contained an arbitration clause: "Live Nation and you [user of and its related websites] agree to arbitrate all disputes and claims between us. This agreement to arbitrate is intended to be broadly interpreted." 

In the arbitration, Respondent asserts a claim pursuant to §25.33 of the Arts and Cultural Affairs Law of the State of New York ("ACAL") to recover damages and injunctive relief arising from Bowery's alleged violations of §25.30(c) of the ACAL by employing a paperless ticketing system.  Respondent contended that Bowery violated ACAL §25.30(c) by employing a paperless ticketing system without providing the consumer the option of purchasing the tickets in a transferable form.  Respondent thus filed a demand for arbitration.  The issue was whether Bowery Presents, a nonsignatory to the arbitration agreement, could nonetheless be bound by the arbitration clause.

The Court found that Ticketmaster was Bowery's limited agent and, therefore, Bowery was not bound by the arbitration clause in the Terms of Use.  Moreover, the Court found that even if Ticketmaster did possess sufficient authority to bind Bowery Presents to an arbitration agreement, the plain language of the arbitration clause at issue bound only Ticketmaster and the ticket purchaser to arbitration, not Bowery Presents.