A class-action lawsuit filed against the Timberwolves in 2016 over their implementation of their Flash Seats paperless ticketing system is nearing a settlement, according to an e-mail sent Monday from Brian Gudmundson, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, to at least one of the plaintiffs, Chris Hennen, which was obtained by the Star Tribune.
The suit alleged that the implementation of Flash Seats “fundamentally, and unlawfully, alters the way Timberwolves ticket holders may use and transfer tickets” and was put in place to “control the use, resale, and transfer of tickets by season-ticket holders — and to employ minimum resale prices, added fees, and other draconian restrictions on subsequent transfers of the tickets.”
The original plaintiffs argued that the organization implemented the Flash Seats system after season-ticket holders had already purchased their 2015-16 tickets and that had the plaintiffs — both of whom spent more than $20,000 this season on Timberwolves season tickets — known about the change it would have influenced their decisions.
‘‘While the team denied any wrongdoing or liability, as we enter this New Era of Timberwolves basketball, both parties felt strongly that it was important to resolve a two-season old dispute and focus on the future,’’ the Timberwolves said in a statement. Glen Taylor, owner of the Timberwolves, also owns the Star Tribune.
The case was filed in March 2016 in Hennepin County and was sent to an arbitrator in October. Per the e-mail from Gudmundson to Hennen, that process has led to a proposed settlement including these six points:
*Every class-action member will be eligible to receive six upper level tickets from among 10 Timberwolves home games chosen by the team this season.
*Class-action members get a free tour of the new Target Center, which will also be scheduled by the Timberwolves.
*The Timberwolves will disclose explicitly and for the first time the 75 percent resale minimums right in the season membership agreement.
*The Timberwolves are going to make a public statement regarding the settlement.
*The Timberwolves are going to handle and pay for all notice and administration of the settlement.
*The Timberwolves are going to pay $265,000 for attorneys’ fees and expenses, and class representative service awards.
“This morning, we presented these agreed terms to the Arbitrator and asked him to preliminarily approve the settlement as being fair and reasonable on its face, and to allow notice to be mailed to class members,” Gudmundson wrote in the e-mail. “The arbitrator granted our request.”
Plaintiffs will now receive a class action notice, though it sounds like Hennen isn’t exactly thrilled by the terms of the settlement.
“I think it’s a ripoff,” he said. “We’re getting tickets to probably some bad games against bad teams in the upper deck.”
Hennen said he joined the lawsuit after being unable to sell several games of his season-ticket package in 2015-16, the year Flash Seats was implemented, saying the minimum resale price was a factor. He said Timberwolves ticket representatives called last year and again this year to see if he was interested in buying season tickets, and he declined because Flash Seats is still the organization’s ticket system.
Hennen said he liked the part of the settlement in which the Wolves will have to disclose the 75 percent minimum resale price, though he added, “If I buy the tickets, I should be able to sell them for the price I want to sell them for.”
It’s possible, though, that Hennen constitutes a part of a small but vocal minority of fans. In a Dec. 2016 interview, Brad Ruiter, the Wolves’ VP of Communications, said of Flash Seats, “The vast majority of the feedback we have received from our ticket holders has been positive.”