Appeals Court Sides with Chicago Cubs in Ticket Scalping Dispute

Oct 13, 2006

An Illinois appellate court has affirmed a trial court’s ruling, dismissing a class-action lawsuit brought against the Chicago Cubs for the creation and use of its own ticket broker service.
The plaintiffs claimed, unsuccessfully, that the club had violated numerous laws, including the state’s Ticket Scalping Act, the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, and the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, among others.
The Cubs began exploring the idea of creating a ticket broker service in 2001 allegedly to gain some market share in the after-market for Cubs tickets. In less than a year, the Wrigley Field Premium Ticket Services, Inc. (Premium) was born. This entailed the club setting aside certain tickets that would be made available to Premium for resale to prospective buyers.
In 2002, Premium sold its first tickets to the public, including the two named plaintiffs – Peter Cavoto, Jr. and Gerald Carr, Jr. Both men bought tickets that were priced above face value, which is a common occurrence when buying tickets from a broker. The plaintiffs, however, believed they were “injured” because the tickets came directly from the club and because, according to one of the plaintiffs, the relationship was “concealed.”
The trial court was unimpressed with the plaintiffs’ allegations, finding that the transaction between the club and Premium was a legitimate “sale,” that Premium was not controlled by the club, and that the defendants did not violate any of the aforementioned laws.
The plaintiffs appealed.
Upon review, the appeals court explored the transaction process between the club and Premium and concluded that “a sale did take place.” (T)he Ticket Scalping Act does not prohibit the sale of tickets by the club, a company operating a baseball park, to Premium, a ticket broker; and it does not prohibit sister subsidiary corporations from engaging in sales transactions that involve tickets.”
It next reviewed the plaintiffs’ argument that “there could be no lawful resale of Cubs tickets unless those tickets were first made available for sale to consumers.” Answering that argument, the appeals court found that Premium did, in fact, buy its tickets from the club, like any other ticket broker, before selling them to the plaintiffs. It also noted that the club had tickets for sale through its box office for the games for which the plaintiffs purchased tickets through Premium.
The latter was also a key factor in the court’s determination that the defendants did not violate the Consumer Fraud Act. Addressing that argument, in particular, the appeals court wrote that the plaintiffs “were not injured by the defendants’ business practices.”
Lastly, the court dispatched with the plaintiffs’ Deceptive Business Practices Act claim, since they “did not engage in a bait-and-switch advertising scheme.” Cavoto et al. v. Chicago National League Ball Club, Inc.; Ill.App.Ct., 1st District; No. 1-03-3749; 7/28/06


Articles in Current Issue