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Lawsuits seek repayment of $12M to taxpayers, Ticketmaster divesture

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(The Center Square) – On behalf of the North Carolina’s 10.8 million residents, Attorney General Josh Stein said separate unrelated lawsuits have been filed against Pactiv Evergreen and Live Nation.

Pactiv closed a paper mill in Canton in 2023 and Stein is seeking repayment of $12 million he says is a breach of a 10-year-old grant agreement. The other lawsuit, of which North Carolina participates as one of 30 states with the U.S. Department of Justice, says Live Nation and Ticketmaster have illegally monopolized the live entertainment industry.

In a release from the state, Canton Mayor Zeb Smathers supported the lawsuit against Blue Ridge Paper Products and Evergreen Packaging, which is collectively known as Pactiv Evergreen. The plant site itself dates to 1908 as the Champion Fiber Co.

Stein said Thursday the Job Maintenance & Capital Development Fund from the state Commerce Department provided $12 million to the company in exchange for maintaining operations and at least 800 jobs, and keeping the mill open through Dec. 31 of this year. All employees, an estimated 1,300, were terminated in May of last year.

Stein, a Democrat running for governor, said, “We cannot let Pactiv cut and run away with our state’s money. My office has been working with Pactiv over the last year to address the company’s obligations under the JMAC agreement, but it has become clear that legal action was necessary to hold Pactiv accountable.”

Of the entertainment industry litigation led by the U.S. Department of Justice, Stein said, “Live Nation is using its monopoly power to force North Carolinians to pay more than they should for tickets to live events. Tickets to shows are already expensive enough. I will not allow any company to use its monopoly power to charge people even more.”

In response, Live Nation Executive Vice President Dan Wall said, “We are another casualty of this administration’s decision to turn over antitrust enforcement to a populist urge that simply rejects how antitrust law works. Some call this ‘anti-monopoly,’ but in reality it is just anti-business.”

Prosecutors demand a jury trial and ask for prohibition on Live Nation engaging in anticompetitive practices and ask for Live Nation to divest Ticketmaster.

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