New England Patriots v. StubHub

2009 WL 995483 (2009)

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New England Patriots v. StubHub

Massachusetts Superior Court
2009 WL 995483 (2009)

SC

Facts

StubHub, Inc. (defendant) was an online ticket-resale broker. If a fan bought a ticket on StubHub that was ultimately invalid, StubHub would provide a refund if the buyer presented independent confirmation of the ticket’s invalidity from the venue. StubHub permitted season-ticket holders for the New England Patriots (the Patriots) (plaintiff) to resell their tickets on StubHub’s website. The Patriots experienced an increase in fans showing up at the stadium with invalid tickets bought on StubHub. The Patriots sued StubHub for tortious interference with contractual and prospective contractual relations. The Patriots claimed that StubHub intentionally interfered with its contractual relationships with its season-ticket holders and its prospective contractual relationships with individuals on the season-ticket-holder waitlist. Specifically, the Patriots argued that StubHub improperly induced third parties to violate the Massachusetts antiscalping law, which prohibited individuals from engaging in the business of reselling tickets without a license. The Patriots also claimed that they reserved the right to revoke a season-ticket holder’s tickets if the holder engaged in inappropriate conduct at the stadium. The Patriots claimed that one-time anonymous StubHub buyers were more likely to engage in unruly conduct because they lacked similar incentives to act appropriately. The Patriots claimed that this unruly behavior interfered with the goodwill that the Patriots had gained over the years with their season-ticket holders through creation of a civil, family-friendly stadium. The Patriots also argued that they were required to hire additional staff to handle fans who had purchased invalid tickets from StubHub, including managing these fans’ questions and StubHub’s required confirmation of the tickets’ invalidity. StubHub filed a motion for summary judgment.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gants, J.)

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