Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.

March 9, 2001 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357



Baltimore - Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., will be joined by Sister Patricia McLaughlin, S.S.N.D., Executive Director of Caroline Center, on Monday, March 12 at 900 Somerset Street, Baltimore, where the first portion of the $605,215 settlement of an antitrust lawsuit against New York shoe manufacturer Nine West Group, Inc. will be distributed. Part of a 50-state, $36 million settlement, the distributions will fund women’s educational, vocational and safety programs throughout Maryland.

The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed last year alleging that Nine West Group entered into illegal agreements with shoe retailers to fix the retail price of women’s shoes between January 1988 and July 1999, when Nine West Group was purchased by Jones Apparel Group, Inc., of White Plains, New York. Working with the Federal Trade Commission, the attorneys general uncovered evidence that various Nine West divisions, including Easy Spirit, Enzo and Nine West, had engaged in illegal "resale price maintenance," a form of price-fixing, by prohibiting retailers from discounting certain shoes. As a result, according to the lawsuit, consumers paid higher prices for women’s shoes. Price-fixing is illegal under both federal and state antitrust laws.

"I am happy and proud to distribute this settlement money to these very deserving and worthwhile organizations," Attorney General Curran said. "This is a great example of being able to turn a negative situation into a very positive one for many, many women."

Thirty-one charities providing services to Maryland women will receive funds, including local organizations aiding domestic violence and sexual assault victims in every Maryland county and Baltimore City. Other recipients of settlement funds include the Laurence G. Paquin School, Over 60 Counseling and Employment Service of Montgomery County, Payne Memorial Outreach, the Women’s Housing Coalition and Women Entrepreneurs of Baltimore, Inc. The Caroline Center will receive $48,700 to train women for employment in a variety of technology-related fields, including computer support technicians in partnership with University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Curran will present Sr. McLaughlin the check at 2pm Monday.