Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


Seattle - 3/13/01- Washington programs that support women's health, safety, educational or vocational needs will receive $673,643 in grants as the result of a settlement in a price-fixing case against New York shoe manufacturer Nine West, Inc.

The state grants are part of a $34 million nationwide settlement reached last spring with the women's shoe manufacturer.

"Women paid illegally inflated prices for shoes because of Nine West's alleged price-fixing practices," Attorney General Christine Gregoire said. "That's why it is so appropriate that this settlement money be distributed among programs that improve women's lives."

The Washington grants range from $2,129 -- for a Vancouver program to assist women faced with leaving school because of health or family crises -- to a $79,869 grant for a satellite dental clinic in Quincy, Wash. The clinic annually will provide basic dental care for up to 1,100 previously unserved women, half of whom are migrant workers.

The 22 state programs receiving grants were selected from among 375 applicants by an eight-member panel selected by the Attorney General. Panelists included legislators, educators, and representatives of various community service organizations.

In the case against Nine West, all 50 states, five territories and the District of Columbia alleged that the shoe manufacturer entered into illegal agreements with shoe retailers to fix the prices of women's shoes between January of 1988 and July of 1999. Working with the Federal Trade Commission, the attorneys general uncovered evidence that various Nine West divisions, including Easy Spirit, Enzo, Angiolini, and Nine West, prohibited retailers from discounting certain shoes. Price fixing is illegal under both federal and state antitrust laws.

The lawsuit claimed that Nine West's illegal price-fixing activities included distributing lists of shoes that could not be discounted by retailers outside time periods dictated by Nine West. The group told many retailers that the purpose of the policy was to protect them from competition. In order to enforce the policies, Nine West allegedly granted discounts to cooperating retailers and withheld discounts or threatened to cancel or reject orders from uncooperative companies.