The first class action lawsuit involving the fallout from the Super Bowl XLIX ticket shortage has hit the courts.
On Thursday, lawyers representing at least five fans who bought tickets on SBTickets.com filed suit against the website for failing to deliver tickets that it guaranteed to consumers.
The lawsuit, filed in Arizona, accused the website of being in violation of Arizona's Consumer Fraud Act and in breach of contract, among other claims.
"We filed the lawsuit because our clients were scammed out of their dream to attend the Super Bowl and incurred thousands of dollars in expenses as a result," said David Ko, a lawyer for Keller Rohrback, the firm representing the plaintiffs.
While SBTickets.com said that the tickets being purchased were guaranteed, the lawsuit says that the site's owner, Paul Jones, later admitted that his company did not have the tickets that he was selling in hand.
The ticket site was one of many websites exposed for so-called short selling, which is when ticket brokers sell tickets for a game before they buy those tickets. In year's past, brokers had been able to sell tickets at a premium and then buy those seats closer to the game at a lower price to make their profit. But with more and more brokers short selling and the fewest tickets available on the open market as the game approached, the day to cash in never came. So hundreds of fans missed out on what they thought was their chance to go to the Super Bowl because brokers and resale sites reneged on tickets that they already sold.
The websites either chose to offer refunds or bit the bullet and bought tickets at losses so that their customers could still go to the game. Brokers who did the latter collectively lost millions of dollars, including StubHub, who sources say paid $2.3 million to PrimeSport -- for tickets.
Officials with PrimeSport, which had official deals with both Super Bowl participants the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots, said the terms of the deal it had made with StubHub were confidential.
The lawsuit against SBTickets.com shows emails from Jones that, up until the last couple hours before the game, claimed that tickets would be filled. One of the plaintiffs, Brandon Redwood, bought two tickets totaling $4,000 from SBTickets.com and flew from his home in Perth, Australia, to Arizona, only to find out he wouldn't be going to the game.
SBTickets.com offered a money-back refund, which was lower than other sites offered. Jones also promised an undisclosed discount on future orders. A message left on the general mailbox at SBTickets.com was not immediately returned.
Ko said that aside from expanding the class to others who have been wronged by SBTickets.com, his firm is also interested in including other fans who bought tickets from other websites that didn't deliver.
Arizona attorney general Mark Brnovich told ESPN.com on the Friday before the Super Bowl that any dispute between a ticket seller and buyer would be a civil matter unless a "habitual record of fraudulent activity" could be associated with a company.