On September 20, a New Jersey woman named Kerry Inman bought a membership to the official Miley Cyrus fan club for her daughter, Alyna. Five days later, they logged on to MileyWorld.com at exactly 10 a.m., the time Hannah Montana concert tickets became available via presale for fan-club members. But despite having the fan-club edge and being on time, they were already shut out — no tickets were available for either of the Best of Both Worlds shows in their area, January 4 in Pittsburgh and January 5 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Kerry Inman didn’t go back to MileyWorld and ask for a refund or even try to cancel her membership. She didn’t contact Interactive Media Marketing or Smiley Miley, the two companies governing the official Miley Cyrus (a.k.a. Hannah) fan club. So why is she the person at the center of the class-action lawsuit that was filed Tuesday against the fan club? Because of all the women on whose behalf the lawyers are taking action, she had logged on at the precise time tickets should have been available to fan-club members, attorney Aaron Rihn told MTV News.
Rihn, an attorney at Robert Peirce & Associates P.C. — which, along with Glassman, Edwards, Wade & Wyatt P.C., filed the suit in federal court in Tennessee — said that because it’s a class-action suit, the claim isn’t so much about what happened to one fan-club member, but to the group as a whole.
“She could have been any one of a dozen women. This is different than if this were about just one plaintiff,” he said. “Before we filed the suit, we talked to a large number of women, mostly mothers who had bought memberships to try to help get concert tickets, and when they couldn’t get the tickets, some sought refunds and some [tried] to get an answer from the fan club but got no response.”
Most of the women seeking recourse were brought to the law firms’ attention because of office gossip — some of the women who work at Robert Peirce & Associates P.C. in Pittsburgh were in the same position and had found that their friends and neighbors were as well, once they started talking at Brownies events and PTA meetings. Rihn said after they heard a lot of stories about the same complaint, a half-dozen women agreed they wanted to take legal action. Two or three of those women, he said, had tried to get refunds and cancel their memberships but didn’t get a reply. Though the number of people that were initially represented by the suit was small, Rihn said, “it was clear to us that this was an endemic problem.”
“More than 70,000 MileyWorld members obtained concert tickets as a result of their membership in MileyWorld,” Cyrus rep Meghan Prophet countered, noting that each member could purchase up to four tickets apiece, so the total number of tickets made available to fan-club members was more than 250,000 nationwide. Kansas City, Missouri’s Spring Center, for instance, has 18,500 seats; 11,000 seats were made available for the concert, of which 4,000 were sold to the public, with the rest going to the fan club, according to the National Association of Ticket Brokers.
“MileyWorld members had far greater access to concert tickets than the general public and other fan clubs,” Prophet said, “and the claim that the vast majority of MileyWorld members were unable to obtain concert tickets is simply false.”
Since filing the suit, Rihn said, over a thousand people have contacted his law firm in the last 24 hours to join the class-action suit. But since his firm has yet to discuss the case with Interactive Media Marketing or Smiley Miley for discovery purposes, the information they have is limited to those individual stories and media reports. Based on those reports, Rihn believes MileyWorld had upward of 1 million members, so he disputes that 70,000 members getting tickets would be a fair amount.
“That’s a very small percentage of Miley’s actual fan base,” Rihn said. “That makes it more of a lottery than a realistic benefit of fan-club membership.”
[This story was originally published at 4:25 p.m. ET on 11.14.07]