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Meet the Swiftie Lawyer Who’s Taking the Fight to Ticketmaster

And the Minnesota plaintiff in her far-reaching lawsuit.

Provided; Eva Rinaldi via Flickr|

Clockwise from upper-left: Kinder, Swift, and the Ticketmaster logo.

Tim Ellis has been a proud Swiftie since 2013. The Clara City, Minnesota, resident owns all of Taylor Swift's albums, and he made sure to work from home the day tickets to Swift's Eras Tour went on sale November 15 of last year. A Ticketmaster "Verified Fan" who had boosted his odds by purchasing official merch, Ellis thought he had every advantage as the clock struck 10 a.m.

He got waitlisted almost instantly.

"It was the worst experience ever," Ellis said this week. "I was really bummed."

Making matters worse: Minutes after getting snubbed, Ellis says he saw tickets for the Eras Tour, which will visit U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis this Friday and Saturday, popping up on resale sites for thousands of dollars.

“Wait a minute… how is it that StubHub has tickets, and I as a Verified Fan can’t get tickets?" he says. "Bots bought ‘em all up; 'Verified Fan' didn’t mean jack–it was a bunch of bull.”

When Swift added a second Minneapolis date, Ellis managed to score $330 tickets for Friday's performance, though he remained "pretty pissed off." At some point, an online ad recruiting spurned Swifties splashed across his screen. He clicked, leading him down a path to become one of 350+ Swift fans who are suing Ticketmaster-Live Nation. They're suing over the Eras Tour ticket-sale fiasco, specifically, but also over what they believe to be monopolistic advantages in the concert industry that make life harder and more expensive for fans. Lassoing 'em all together? A brassy, blonde, self-described "car wreck lawyer" from Texas named Jennifer Kinder.

"I settled a disputed car wreck four minutes before our call started, and I’m doing a deposition on a dog bite tomorrow," Kinder told us by phone Wednesday. "I’ve never done anything like this before.”

The fight against Ticketmaster-Live Nation is personal for Kinder, whose "Just Call Kinder" tagline suggests a Better Call Saul-level of personal injury lawyer self-awareness. She, too, is a hardcore Swiftie, having bonded with her daughter over the music as far back as she can remember. She, too, is a Verified Fan who had dutifully acquired merch—including the Eras Tour sweatshirt she wore during our call—to get a better bite at the ticket apple. She, too, got waitlisted.

“It didn't take me long to see what was happening on TikTok, which is where most of us congregate," Kinder says. "We were all having the same problem: This ticket sale was rigged from the beginning. Horror story after horror story…”

A couple days later, Kinder posted a plaintiff recruitment video to her TikTok account—note the handle.

Interested parties started pouring in. Kinder notes that they weren't anything like the "litigation lottery" crowd that hopes to get rich quick off sketchy lawsuits. They were true Swifties, she says, drawn to the legal battle by shared aggravation over an openly broken system; most had never sued anybody before, and many expressed apprehension about cost and exposure.

"But person by person, the risk was worth it, and the need for change," Kinder says in her delightful Dallas drawl. "One theme runs through this lawsuit: It has nothing to do with money. We want to know what actually happened on that day.”

That sentiment is echoed by Ellis: "I don’t really care about monetary compensation. My goal is for there to be a breakup in the monopoly of Ticketmaster, and for there to be a lot more limitations on bots scooping up tickets for hot events like this."

Late last year, Kinder and her associate, Griffin McMillan, sued Ticketmaster-Live Nation in the California courts for fraud and antitrust violations on behalf of 25 plaintiffs. The number of plaintiffs has kept ballooning, all of 'em pissed off Swifties. Their suit alleges that the company “intentionally and purposefully” duped customers as part of an "anticompetitive scheme."

The David vs. Goliath scope of her task isn't lost on Kinder. So far, she says she has spent $200,000 on a data forensics expert to try and pin down what, exactly, Tickermaster-Live Nation knew about its widely derided ticket-selling platform. The company has responded with delay after delay, Kinder says, and she suspects it's hoping to kill the cases via mandatory arbitration. (That seems to be its go-to approach.) Unlike with car wrecks ("we’re like piranhas!"), she says lawyers don't view brawls with $3.1 billion mega-corps as lucrative endeavors.

"The odds are against us, but the odds were also against victims of asbestos and smoking," she says. "This is happening every single week on Ticketmaster—indie artists, poetry readings, monster truck rallies. Every time you log onto your Ticketmaster account you get screwed."

Led by an outrageously compensated CEO, Ticketmaster-Live Nation has the money and the growing influence in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, an apparent Swiftie herself, has long accused the company of anti-trust behavior, including at Senate hearings earlier this year.) But Kinder says her 355-Swiftie legal shotgun blast, while something of a Hail Mary, is at least a novel one.

“[Ticketmaster-Live Nation] don’t give a shit. They control the entire industry. $19 or $20 million [settlements] don't mean anything to them, I think they consider it a cost of doing business," she says. "That’s why we feel this lawsuit is different: Every plaintiff is individualized, so they have to try 350 cases. We’re seeking millions of dollars of restitution, and we’re asking that a jury declare this company a monopoly. Our Founding Fathers really wanted to protect against the very behavior they’ve cultivated."

Ellis says he's happy to be fighting for a better future for concertgoers. But, in the short term, he's more focused on Friday's big show. He's taking off work to make a whole day of it. When asked by this reporter which Swift songs he hopes to hear, his only concern was not getting so overjoyed that memories of the show become a blank space.

“Ohh, I don’t care! It doesn’t matter. It’s just going to be a great experience," Ellis says. "My only wish, my greatest wish, is I don’t develop this 'Taylor Swift amnesia' people are talking about...”

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