Discovery of Foreign Documents Stayed in Travel Website MDL
Plaintiffs who filed two class action lawsuits have now been combined as a multidistrict litigation, alleging certain online travel sites have colluded with major hotels to engage in price-fixing in violation of federal anti-trust laws. The MDL is named In re: Online Travel Company Hotel Booking Antitrust Litigation, Case Number 3:12-MD-02405, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
The named defendants include Expedia, Travelocity, Booking.com, Priceline.com, Hilton Hotels, Sheraton Hotels and Marriot international. Plaintiffs are hotel-room purchasers across the United States alleging that the unlawful collusion caused class members to overpay for room reservations. Plaintiff trial attorneys allege in the complaint that although the travel sites advertise that these are the “best prices,” this is only a cover-up for written and verbal agreements with the online agencies that hotels not sell rooms below a certain rate.
The companies are under investigation internationally for unlawful collusion and price-fixing, and plaintiff trial lawyers had subpoenaed the companies for documents and electronic data relating to ongoing investigations in the UK and Switzerland. Plaintiffs argued that this would not be burdensome to defendants, as the companies have already organized and culled the documents and data for the investigations. However, U.S. District Judge Jane J. Boyle stayed the discovery, agreeing with defendants that it would be overly burdensome this early in the case.