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McKool Smith Helps City of San Diego Win $21.2 Million in Hotel Tax Battle

08-05-2010 11:31 AM CET | Politics, Law & Society

Press release from: McKool Smith

SAN DIEGO – The law firm of McKool Smith represented the City of San Diego in an administrative hearing that resulted in a $21.2 million award against a group of online travel companies accused of failing to properly remit millions of dollars in hotel occupancy taxes.

The ruling, which was made public by the defendants in a related case, supports the position of more than 275 other municipalities and governmental entities that are seeking proper payment of hotel occupancy taxes from online travel companies such as Hotels.com, Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline, and Travelocity.

The City of San Diego was represented by attorneys Gary Cruciani and Steve Wolens of McKool Smith’s Dallas office, along with co-counsel from Los Angeles’ Kiesel, Boucher & Larson and Dallas’ Baron & Budd.

During the hearing conducted in January, attorneys from McKool Smith presented evidence showing how San Diego was owed additional revenue based on online travel companies’ paying taxes only on the wholesale price of hotel room bookings, but collecting and retaining taxes on higher, retail prices.

A San Diego ordinance, as is the case with many of the hotel tax ordinances in cases brought by other California municipalities against the online travel companies, required the city to first exhaust its administrative remedies before going to court. After a contested evidentiary hearing, the Hearing Officer ruled that the online travel companies owe the city slightly more than $17 million in taxes that have never been remitted, and $4.25 million in penalties.

In October 2009, McKool Smith won a $20 million verdict for the City of San Antonio and more than 170 other Texas cities in a federal lawsuit based on similar claims. In California, the firm prevailed in another administrative hearing that resulted in a $21 million award for the City of Anaheim in February 2009. McKool Smith also represents Broward County, Florida, and many other governmental entities in similar proceedings over unpaid hotel occupancy taxes.

McKool Smith is recognized as one of the premier trial law firms in the United States based on significant courtroom victories and substantial settlements for domestic and international clients. With more than 125 attorneys in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Marshall, New York, and Washington DC, the firm handles complex commercial litigation, intellectual property claims, bankruptcy matters, and white collar litigation for companies and individuals across the globe. McKool Smith has won more of the Top 100 Verdicts than any other law firm in the nation every year since 2008. Firm clients include major airlines, telecommunications companies, medical device manufacturers, energy producers, and many others.

For more information, please contact Bruce Vincent at 800-559-4534 or bruce@androvett.com.

McKool Smith is recognized as one of the premier trial law firms in the United States based on significant courtroom victories and substantial settlements for domestic and international clients. With more than 125 attorneys in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Marshall, New York, and Washington DC, the firm handles complex commercial litigation, intellectual property claims, bankruptcy matters, and white collar litigation for companies and individuals across the globe. McKool Smith has won more of the Top 100 Verdicts than any other law firm in the nation every year since 2008. Firm clients include major airlines, telecommunications companies, medical device manufacturers, energy producers, and many others.

2501 Oak Lawn Avenue
Suite 650
Dallas, Texas 75219
Tel: 214.559.4630
For more information, please contact Bruce Vincent at 800-559-4534 or bruce@androvett.com.

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