LNE granted summary judgment in L.A., Denver suits

Closing out a pair of antitrust suits in play for nearly a decade, a federal judge late last week granted Live Nation Entertainment’s motion for summary judgment in cases pertaining to the Los Angeles and Denver markets.

Court’s decision concludes two actions that stemmed from dramatic consolidation in the national concert promotion business during the last two decades.

Beginning in 2002, 22 regional class actions were filed against Clear Channel Communications, whose concert promotion holdings were spun off as Live Nation in 2005. The company became LNE with its 2010 merger with Ticketmaster.

In 2000, Clear Channel had acquired the holdings of SFX Entertainment, which had aggressively acquired a large number of independent concert promoters in the late ’90s.

Lauren Hammer and Margaret Thompson, the plaintiffs in the class actions filed regarding the L.A. and Denver markets, had alleged that Clear Channel’s promotion policies were monopolistic and anticompetitive.

In deciding the cases in LNE’s favor, U.S. District Court Judge Stephen V. Wilson granted the company’s motion to exclude expert testimony by Dr. Owen R. Phillips, a witness for the plaintiffs. Wilson at one point described Phillips’ analysis of the concert business as “hopelessly flawed.”

Antitrust actions remain pending in the Chicago, New Jersey/New York and Boston markets. LNE said in a statement, “While the order relates specifically to (the L.A. and Denver) cases, Live Nation fully anticipates that the result ultimately will be applied to the remaining cases as well, effectively ending the litigation.”

LNE chief exec Michael Rapino added: “We’ve spent a considerable amount of time and money to prove that we’re right in this litigation. We refused to be held hostage by frivolous class-action lawsuits, and now we’ve been vindicated.”

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