Consumer News Release
For immediate release -- Monday, March 6, 2000.
Contact Bob Brammer -- 515-281-6699
Miller: Iowa Receiving Share of $34 Million Settlement with Shoe Maker "Nine West"
DES MOINES-- Attorney General Tom Miller said Monday that Iowa will receive over $300,000 as a result of a multi-state antitrust price-fixing action against Nine West Group Inc., a White Plains, New York, maker of women's shoes. The Iowa payment is a proportional share of a $34 million national settlement filed today in Federal District Court in New York.
"We alleged that Nine West Group illegally prohibited independent retailers from discount-ing prices on their Easy Spirit, Enzo Angiolini and Nine West shoes," Miller said. "That's an antitrust violation called vertical resale-price maintenance. We alleged Nine West thwarted an open and competitive market among independent retailers, and people paid higher prices for shoes."
Working with the Federal Trade Commission, the Attorneys General uncovered evidence that various Nine West Group divisions entered into illegal agreements with shoe retailers between January 1988 and July 1999. The States' lawsuit, which was filed Monday immediately prior to the settlement agreement, claimed that Nine West's illegal price-fixing included occasions when the manufacturer distributed lists of shoes that could not be discounted by retailers outside of time periods dictated by Nine West.
Nine West explained to many of its independent retailers that the purpose of the pricing policies was to protect them from competition. In order to enforce the illegal pricing policies, Nine West allegedly granted discounts to cooperating retailers and withheld discounts or threatened to cancel or refuse to take orders from companies that did not comply.
Under the fifty-state settlement agreement filed Monday, which must be approved by the Federal District Court, Nine West agreed to notify each of its dealers and retailers that it is their right to independently determine the price at which they wish to advertise and sell Nine West products. Nine West did not admit any liability or wrongdoing.
Nine West also will pay $34 million into a settlement fund. A portion of the settlement may be used to reimburse states for investigative and other costs. A total of $30.5 million will be divided among the states according to population, with Iowa's share estimated to be $316,000. Under terms of the settlement, states will use their shares to fund women's health, educational, vocational or safety programs.