| City of Rome, Hart County, et al v. Hotels.com, et al |
As a result of City of Rome, Hart County, et al v. Hotels.com, et al, a class action lawsuit, Georgia cities and counties that have enacted a hotel-motel tax will begin receiving hotel tax payments from online travel companies, such as Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline and Travelocity. The tax payments will be from May 16, 2011 and going forward. In order to elect to remain a member of the class or to opt out of the class your county will need to take action.
On August 16, 2012, in the Class Action on behalf of Georgia Cities and Counties (with the exception of Atlanta and Columbus), a final order was entered approving a settlement agreement whereby the Online Travel Companies will be paying hotel/motel tax from May 16, 2011 forward. City of Rome v. Hotels.com, Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline, Orbitz, et al., U.S.D.C., N.D. Ga., Civil Action No. 4:05-CV-249-HLM. In his Order, Judge Harold L. Murphy ordered any city and county that had not already submitted to Class Counsel the list of hotels with physical address, hotel motel tax rate, sales tax rate, and a certified copy of its hotel motel ordinance, to do so by October 15, 2012. (Please submit information to J. Anderson Davis of the law firm of Brinson, Askew, Berry, Seigler, Richardson & Davis, LLP, Post Office Box 5007, Rome, GA 30162).
The Online Travel Companies (Hotels.com, Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline, Orbitz), according to Judge Murphy's Order, will make a lump sum payment for taxes (and 7% interest) from May 16, 2011 through November 30, 2012 into the Court registry, and then the Class Administrator will pay the lead named Plaintiff cities and counties $2500.00 each (18 cities and counties) for their participation, attorneys' fees of one-third, and expenses, and then the remaining funds will be distributed to cities and counties on a pro rata basis. Distribution payments to cities and counties are anticipated to be made by the end of this year. Thereafter payments will be made to cities and counties on a quarterly basis as long as the Online Travel Companies continue to use the Merchant Model of Business.
Plaintiffs’ Class Counsel are:
Robert M. Brinson and J. Anderson Davis of Brinson, Askew, Berry, Seigler, Richardson & Davis, LLP, Rome, Georgia;
Robert C. Lamar and David W. Davenport of Lamar, Archer & Cofrin, LLP, Atlanta, Georgia;
John W. Crongeyer, M.D. of Crongeyer Law Firm PC, Atlanta, Georgia;
Walter J. Gordon of The Gordon Law Firm, Hartwell, Georgia;
Kevin A. Ross of The Law Practice of Kevin A. Ross, Atlanta, Georgia; and
David G. Archer of Archer & Lovell, P.C., Cartersville, Georgia.
Counties need to submit to J. Anderson Davis, Brinson, Askew, Berry, Seigler, Richardson & Davis, LLP, Post Office Box 5007, Rome, GA 30162, the following:
1. A list, (updated and current) with the name and physical address, of each licensed hotel/motel operating within your jurisdiction that is subject to hotel taxes from May, 2011 to the present;
2. The hotel/motel tax rate(s), and local sales tax rate(s), if any, from May, 2011 to the present for your jurisdiction;
3. A certified copy of the hotel/motel tax ordinance; and
4. Any subsequent changes in the foregoing information must also be submitted to Class Counsel.