YTB class actions consolidated in federal court

Ann Knef Jan. 14, 2009, 8:00am

U.S. District Judge G. Patrick Murphy has consolidated two class action lawsuits against Internet-based travel service YTB International.

The lawsuits filed in August -- Morrison v. YTB and Hartman v. YTB -- claim the company 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.

Following a hearing last month, lawyers in both cases agreed that consolidation was appropriate. Murphy entered his order on Jan. 6.

Carey and Danis of St. Louis, which represents Jeffrey and Polly Hartman, will continue to pursue individual claims, according to court records. They will not contest the rights of the Rex Carr firm of East St. Louis and Witzel & Kanzler of St. Louis to serve as co-class counsel in Morrison v. YTB.

"In making this agreement, the Carey and Danis firm reserves the right to apply for attorneys' fees and costs at the conclusion of the case," states a court report regarding consolidation.

YTB provides 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.

YTB is represented by Judy Cates of Swansea.

In the first suit filed Aug. 8, Faye Morrison of St. Louis and Kwame Thompson of Atlanta, are asking for at least $100 million in damages on behalf of the putative class.

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