April 21, 2020 / 4:07 PM / 2 months ago

Baseball fans sue MLB, balking at lack of refunds for canceled games

(Reuters) - Major League Baseball and its 30 teams have been sued by a pair of New Yorkers upset that fans are not being offered their money back on tickets to games canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

FILE PHOTO: Major League Baseball - New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox - London Stadium, London, Britain - June 30, 2019 General view during the match REUTERS/Peter Cziborra/File Photo

In a proposed class action filed on Monday, Matthew Ajzenman and Susan Terry-Bazer complained that the sport has failed to come up with a refund plan, more than a month after Commissioner Rob Manfred scrapped the scheduled March 26 season opening.

They are seeking refunds for anyone who bought regular season tickets for games canceled in 2020 because of COVID-19, and for the defendants to contact ticketholders to ensure they know their rights.

“Over the course of history, few moments have been as challenging as the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis, and Defendants have chosen to shift their losses to loyal fans, furthering their financial hardship,” the complaint said.

“Baseball fans are stuck with expensive and unusable tickets for unplayable games,” it added. “Even if some games can be played for the MLB 2020 season, it is near certainty that no fans will attend.”

Ajzenman said he paid $1,730 for a ticket package to more than 20 New York Mets games, which the team has refused to refund.

Terry-Bazer, meanwhile, said she paid $926 so she could take her grandson and four others to watch the New York Yankees host the Boston Red Sox on May 9. She said Ticketmaster, which issued the tickets, also refused a refund.

Major League Baseball, the Yankees and the Mets did not immediately respond on Tuesday to requests for comment.

Ticketmaster, its parent Live Nation Entertainment Inc, StubHub and Last Minute Transactions are also defendants.

The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles federal court accused the defendants of civil conspiracy, unjust enrichment, and violating California consumer protection laws.

On March 15, Manfred pushed back baseball’s scheduled March 26 opening day to no earlier than May 15, as the pandemic led sports leagues around the world to suspend playing.

League officials and the players’ union have discussed playing games at neutral sites or without fans.

It is unclear when the 2020 regular season will start. The last year teams did not complete a 162-game schedule was 1995.

The case is Ajzenman et al v Office of the Commissioner of Baseball et al, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 20-03643.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Tom Brown

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