Lawsuits filed to reclaim $12 million owed to taxpayers, demand Ticketmaster divestment

Attorney General Josh Stein has announced that separate lawsuits have been filed against Pactiv Evergreen and Live Nation on behalf of the 10.8 million residents of North Carolina.

Pactiv shut down a paper mill in Canton in 2023, and Stein is now pursuing reimbursement of $12 million, claiming it is a violation of a grant agreement that was established a decade ago. In another legal case, North Carolina is one of 30 states that have joined forces with the U.S. Department of Justice to accuse Live Nation and Ticketmaster of engaging in illegal monopolistic practices within the live entertainment sector.

Canton Mayor Zeb Smathers has expressed his support for the lawsuit against Pactiv Evergreen, the company formed by the merger of Blue Ridge Paper Products and Evergreen Packaging. The plant site, which has been in operation since 1908, was originally known as Champion Fiber Co.

According to Stein, the state Commerce Department’s Job Maintenance & Capital Development Fund granted the company $12 million to ensure the continuation of operations and the retention of at least 800 jobs. As part of the agreement, the mill will remain open until December 31 of this year. The termination of all 1,300 employees took place in May of last year.

Stein, a Democratic candidate for governor, expressed concern over Pactiv’s potential departure with the state’s funds. He emphasized the ongoing efforts of his office to engage with Pactiv regarding their responsibilities outlined in the JMAC agreement. However, Stein concluded that taking legal action was essential in order to ensure Pactiv’s accountability.

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In the realm of legal battles within the entertainment industry, Stein strongly asserts that Live Nation is employing its dominant market position to impose higher ticket prices on the people of North Carolina. He firmly believes that ticket prices for live events are already exorbitant and refuses to tolerate any company that exploits its monopoly power to further burden consumers.

Live Nation Executive Vice President, Dan Wall, expressed his disappointment with the administration’s decision to hand over antitrust enforcement to what he perceives as a populist agenda. According to Wall, this approach, often referred to as “anti-monopoly,” is actually detrimental to businesses rather than promoting fair competition.

Prosecutors are seeking a jury trial and requesting that Live Nation be prohibited from engaging in anticompetitive practices. They are also calling for Live Nation to divest Ticketmaster.

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