YTB International class actions set for status

Steve Gonzalez Nov. 26, 2008, 8:00am

An attorney for YTB International is asking a federal judge to set a status conference in class actions that alleges YTB is an illegal pyramid scheme.

YTB's attorney, Judy Cates of Swansea, argues that a status conference is necessary to coordinate defendants' responses to the two complaints filed against YTB.

According to Cates, the separate actions have been substantially similar.

Faye Morrison and Kwame Thompson filed one of the suits Aug. 8. They seek to represent a putative class who allege YTB operates an illegal pyramid sales scheme and employs an illegal chain referral sales technique in violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.

Morrison, of St. Louis and Thompson, of Atlanta, acted as both independent marketing representatives (IMRs) and referring travel agents (RTAs) for YTB.

Their suit seeks at least $100 million in damages on behalf of the putative class.

Morrison and Thompson have retained Rex Carr, Christian Montroy and Michael Marker of East St. Louis to represent them. In addition, Jay Kanzler, Jr., and Brian Massimino of St. Louis will assist in representing the class.

According to their Web site, YTB provides Internet-based travel booking services for travel agencies and home-based independent representatives in the United States, Puerto Rico, Bermuda, the Bahamas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Canada.

The company operates through three subsidiaries,, Inc., YTB Travel Network, Inc., and REZconnect Technologies, Inc., all of which are also named as defendants in the case.

The second class action against YTB and its subsidiaries was filed by Jeffrey and Polly Hartman. Their suit is almost identical to the first class action, however they are represented by different lawyers. They filed their case seven days after the first one.

John Carey, Tiffany Marko and Francis "Casey" Flynn of Carey & Danis in St. Louis represent the Hartmans.

Cates argues holding a status conference in both cases would "ensure the orderly consideration of the likely motions to dismiss."

"Plaintiffs will suffer no prejudice if the Court grants this Motion," Cates wrote.

U.S. District Judge G. Patrick Murphy agreed, and on Nov. 21, set a status conference for 9 a.m. on Dec. 5.

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