Lawyers for Rome, Cartersville and Hart County filed suit in 2005 against online companies such as Hotels.com, Priceline and Expedia, contending they owe hotel-motel taxes on the rates they charge their customers rather than on the discounted rates they pay local hotels.
A partial settlement was announced last month that calls for the online travel companies to pay the difference they’ve collected since May 16, 2011 — and to pay tax on the retail price going forward.
Claims on fees collected by the online companies before May 16, 2011, remain an issue in the suit, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday.
Fourteen other cities and counties — including Rockmart, Cedartown and Dalton — joined the suit in 2006, and U.S. District Court Judge Harold L. Murphy granted class action status in 2011 for all local governments that levy the taxes.
Click to see the previous report "Partial settlement in hotel tax lawsuit."
Murphy signed a preliminary approval of the class action partial settlement Tuesday and scheduled a formal fairness hearing for Aug. 16 at 1:30 p.m. in courtroom 300 of U.S. District Court.
According to documents filed in court, the hearing will “consider all comments on or objections to the partial settlement agreement.”
After the hearing Murphy is expected to decide whether to approve the partial settlement.
If Murphy approves the final settlement, the funds will be distributed/paid to the city or county on a quarterly basis or as the court directs, according to court documents.
In exchange for the payments the plaintiffs “will waive any rights they may have had for penalties or attorneys fees on the incremental taxes” paid to the plaintiffs by the defendants, according to court documents.
The Rome law firm Brinson, Askew, Berry, Richardson, Siegler and Davis is representing the plaintiffs in the case.