In spite of the mayor’s approval, the attorney for Fairview Heights has not turned over settlement agreements and other documents related to the city’s suits against online travel companies.
Mayor Gail Mitchell told the Record April 23 that city attorney Al Paulson had his authority to produce the agreements from 13 lawsuits the city pursued against online travel companies such as Orbitz, Expedia and others.
Paulson was asked the same day to provide copies of the agreements to the newspaper.
Paulson, who had been out of town, has not returned multiple messages from the Record asking for the documents. According to his office, he is out of town again for the remainder of the week.
The Record is seeking the documents to determine how much the city netted from the suits and what, if anything, it paid in legal fees.
So far, the city has received just over $50,000 from the lawsuit against Orbitz that settled in March, according to the city’s Treasurer’s office. That settlement was the last in the series.
In 2004, Fairview Heights sued the 13 online travel companies over back taxes on hotel rooms. The suit started as a class action in which Fairview Heights proposed to represent 50 Illinois municipalities against the companies.
However, after the case was removed to federal court, it failed to be certified as a class action. Fairview Heights was free to pursue individual claims against the companies. All defendants settled with the city.
Fairview Heights aldermen have yet to be briefed on the outcomes of the suit, two aldermen and Mitchell said.