Retaliation, Fees, and a ‘Pimp’ and ‘Hammer’: 6 Takeaways From DOJ’s Live Nation Lawsuit

  (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department’s lawsuit with 30 states accusing Live Nation of monopolizing concert tickets and promotions includes a longtime former plaintiffs’ lawyer who joined the Biden administration as it was ramping up antitrust enforcement.

The lawsuit, filed on Thursday in Manhattan federal court seeking to break up Live Nation and its Ticketmaster unit, involves more than a dozen Justice Department lawyers under the leadership of Jonathan Kanter, the Biden-era head of the antitrust division.
The team includes lead attorney Bonny Sweeney, a co-head of the antitrust group at plaintiffs firm Hausfeld before leaving for DOJ in 2022. Sweeney had spent more than 25 years on the plaintiffs’ side, helping to pursue antitrust lawsuits against Alphabet’s Google, Apple, and major credit card companies.
Hausfeld’s Scott Martin, co-leader of the firm’s antitrust group, on Thursday, said Sweeney was a concert-goer and "seasoned antitrust litigator" who will “make this case relatable whether to a judge, to a jury or to the general public.”
Sweeney had been at Hausfeld since 2015 and co-led the firm's antitrust team for four years. She was previously at plaintiffs' firm Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd.
Sweeney and the Justice Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Live Nation and Ticketmaster have turned to teams of lawyers from large U.S. law firms Latham & Watkins and Cravath, Swaine & Moore to defend against the lawsuit, which alleged the two companies had illegally inflated ticket prices and hurt artists.
The companies in a statement called the allegations “baseless” and vowed to fight them.
Representatives of the two law firms had no further comment on the lawyers who will take leadership roles.
Both firms are steeped in attorneys' antitrust defense work.
Los Angeles-founded Latham has long been a key outside law firm defending Live Nation in private consumer lawsuits challenging core business practices. Latham also represented Live Nation in 2010 when the Justice Department approved Live Nation’s merger with Ticketmaster.
Last year, Live Nation hired one of Latham’s top antitrust defenders, Daniel Wall, as executive vice president for corporate and regulatory affairs. Wall had been at Latham for more than 20 years. Other Latham antitrust clients include French luxury house Hermes and Apple.
The elite Cravath law firm is a New York-based powerhouse, and the firm is leading court work for “Fortnite” maker Epic Games in lawsuits accusing Apple and Google of abusing market power.
Cravath’s antitrust chair is Christine Varney, who previously led the Justice Department’s antitrust division and served as a commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission.

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