Large hotel chains and online retailers face price-fixing suit

Plaintiffs claim hotels and sites that sell rooms conspired to set minimum prices

Hotel chains such as Hilton Worldwide Inc. and online retailers such as Expedia Inc. are facing accusations of antitrust violations.

According to two plaintiffs, several large hotel chains and websites that sell hotel rooms conspired to set minimum prices on rooms to compete with small online retailers that sold rooms more cheaply. The suit, filed yesterday in California federal court, seeks class action status.

The plaintiffs, Nikita Turik and Eric Balk, say the hotels violated federal and California state antitrust laws when they entered agreements to stop doing business with online retailers that offered rooms below the agreed-upon price. The suit also says the hotels agreed to the conspiracy because business from online retailers is significant, amounting to about half of hotel rooms sold in the U.S.

The suit says the companies reached these agreements during industry conferences.

The other defendants named in the suit include Orbitz Worldwide Inc.; Travelocity.com LP and its parent, Sabre Holdings Corp.; Marriott International Inc.; Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.; and W and Westin hotel chains.

The suit seeks monetary damages with interest.

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Cathleen Flahardy

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