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The Associated Press June 18, 2010, 8:45AM ET

NJ lawsuit claiming ticket gouging can go forward

A federal judge on Thursday declined to dismiss a lawsuit that accuses a concert promoter of ticket price gouging and wrote in her opinion that the suit's allegations "indicate a capacity to mislead consumers."

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Mary Cooper in Trenton means the case against concert promoter Live Nation Worldwide, a subsidiary of Live Nation Entertainment, can go forward. Henry Wolfe, an attorney representing plaintiff Michael Katz, said he would file a motion to have the case given class-action status.

Katz sued Live Nation last year, claiming that a $6 parking fee was added to all tickets for a Blink 182 concert at PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel in August 2009, regardless of whether concertgoers planned to drive.

The suit also alleged the promoter padded ticket prices while claiming to offer a "no-fee" promotion.

In Thursday's decision, Cooper ruled that the allegations, if proved at trial, could constitute a violation of New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act.

"Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged facts supporting a claim for unconscionable business practice in violation of the NJCFA," Cooper wrote. "We find that these allegations indicate a capacity to mislead consumers and evince a lack of fair dealing."

The suit alleges Live Nation charged each concertgoer the parking fee despite maintaining fewer parking spaces than the venue's 17,500-person capacity, and used the fee as "a contrivance for Defendants to arbitrarily inflate ticket prices to Art (sic) Center events."

An attorney representing Live Nation didn't return a message left after hours Thursday.

Live Nation has said the parking fees were charged ahead of time to avoid long delays if patrons had to stop and pay for parking at the entrance of the Arts Center.

Live Nation Inc., the world's largest concert promoter, merged with Ticketmaster, the nation's largest ticket-seller, in January to form Live Nation Entertainment Inc. after a yearlong antitrust review by the Justice Department.

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