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U.S. District Judge Enters Final Judgement on Lawsuit Dating
Back to 2006 Against Eleven Online Travel Firms

173 Cities to Divide $55 million in Damages, Further, OTA's Will Have to Remit Taxes
on Retail Room Rates Going Forward

By Laylan Copelin, Austin American-StatesmanMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

March 13, 2013--The city of Austin stands to reap millions from a class-action lawsuit against 11 online travel companies accused of underpaying hotel occupancy taxes, according to a lawyer in the case.

San Antonio and 172 other cities, including several in Central Texas, sued 11 online travel companies, including, Expedia and, in a lawsuit dating back to 2006.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia of San Antonio entered a final judgment, setting the total damages, plus interest since a 2009 jury trial, at $55 million.

Dallas lawyer Steve Wolens, who is involved in the case, said Austin's take is about $7.5 million. Payouts for other Central Texas cities were not available late Tuesday.

The lawsuit claimed the online travel firms failed to remit hotel occupancy taxes on the difference between the retail price of the hotel rooms charged to their customers and the wholesale price paid by the online travel firms.

In addition to the damages, the judge ordered that the online travel firms remit taxes on the retail rates charged for hotel rooms in the future.

The larger defendants and their share of the damages in the case are:, $20 million; Expedia Inc., $15.8 million;, $7 million; Hotwire Inc., $4.9 million;, $3.1 million; and Orbitz, $2.7 million.


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