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Support the Sarah Hall Lawsuit - 10/21/2002
By Peter Splingaerd, All Travel, Phoenix
I was delighted to receive notice from the law firm of Anderson, Daniel & Coxe that a federal judge has certified a class-action lawsuit against the major airlines for antitrust behavior in colluding to reduce and eliminate travel agency commissions. This is a major breakthrough in the defense of travel agency rights in the United States. It is not clear to me whether Sarah Hall was the instigator or whether she volunteered to be the lead plaintiff for the law firm, but it doesn’t matter. These people are our de facto heroes and deserve our full attention and support from this point on.
Having our case heard in an impartial court of law is very different from going to the DOT, which is purely political. If we do not believe in the impartiality of our judges, our entire legal system is worthless. After examining the facts of what the airlines have done to us and the way it was done, I have no doubt that only an airline executive can claim there was no collusion or violation of antitrust law.
It is important to have this case heard in court. If we win, the airlines will have to pay what they owe us in damages, plus 300% of that in punitive damages. These are very high stakes, and all travel agencies stand a good chance to benefit substantially. Perhaps this may be the best way yet for the airlines to get rid of travel agents: Lose the lawsuit so all the plaintiffs can afford to retire.
Travel law expert Alexander Anolik has warned that he believes the plaintiffs will run out of money and will be forced to settle. This means that he believes travel agents will not support this lawsuit, and the law firm will run out of money and will be forced to accept a token from the airlines, which will be a small fraction of what we could be awarded by the court. I am afraid he is right, so I write now to tell all my fellow agents and agency owners, small and large: Do not let that happen. This is the first real chance we have had to strike back. This is the level playing field we have been waiting for.
Contact the law firm. Read about antitrust laws, definitions and penalties. This is your business and you have strong financial reason to act now.
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