DOJ: News Release

Montana Women to Benefit from Antitrust Settlement

HELENA – Attorney General Mike McGrath on Wednesday presented checks for $51,500 to two Montana programs that seek to prevent violence against women and to improve women’s economic status. The checks represent Montana’s share of an antitrust settlement against the Nine West shoe company.

The $103,000 in settlement funds was split between the Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and the Women’s Foundation of Montana, which is part of the Montana Community Foundation. Under the terms of the settlement agreement filed last year in federal court, the money must be used to fund women’s health, educational, vocational or safety programs.

“It’s really rewarding to be able to use the money from this price-fixing settlement to help support two programs that contribute so much to our communities,” McGrath said. “I’m confident these settlement funds will be put to work protecting women who are in abusive situations and broadening their employment opportunities.”

Judy Reel, program assistant for the Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, said that the Coalition’s share will provide grants to local programs and service providers for projects that meet the health, educational, vocational or safety objectives of the settlement.

And Sidney Armstrong, executive director of the Montana Community Foundation, noted that the Foundation will put the money into its permanent endowment for the Women’s Foundation. The Women’s Foundation provides grants to non-profit organizations and communities to support efforts that improve the economic status of women and girls. As a result of receiving the settlement money, the foundation also will receive a dollar-for-dollar match from the Chambers Family Fund of Denver, which has awarded a $500,000 challenge grant to the Montana Community Foundation for the Women’s Foundation.

“We appreciate the tremendous opportunity the Attorney General has provided through the Nine West settlement to benefit the women of our state,” Armstrong said. “The Women’s Foundation of Montana endowment will grow by $103,000, and the fund’s permanence will continue its positive effects forever.”

The settlement came in a case filed in U.S. District Court in New York, in which the suing states alleged 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. Nine West Group of White Plains, N.Y., was purchased by Jones Apparel Group, Inc., in June 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, had allegedly illegally prohibited retailers from discounting certain shoes. Price-fixing is illegal under both federal and state antitrust laws.

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