Published Monday, May 17, 2021 | 4:27 p.m.
Updated 6 hours, 47 minutes ago
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A state court judge on Monday allowed a lawsuit to continue against more than 20 online travel companies accused of owing back taxes to Nevada based on hotel room rates.
Clark County District Court Judge Mark Denton in Las Vegas declined to dismiss the case filed last year against hotel booking services including Orbitz, Hotwire, Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline and Hotels.com.
Las Vegas communications executives Mark Fierro and Sig Rogich are suing on behalf of the state to recover for taxpayers revenue they allege was intentionally underpaid going back at least several years.
The amount in dispute in the false claims and consumer fraud action, plus penalties under state Deceptive Trade Practices law, could approach $200 million, according to attorneys with Clark Hill PLC representing Fierro and Rogich.
Attorney Dominic Gentile called Denton’s ruling the first legal hurdle in the civil lawsuit that allows private citizen whistleblowers to be rewarded for successful outcomes where they act and the government recovers money lost to false claims or other kinds of fraud.
In a statement, Gentile said the loss of revenue in the case most affected tourism, school, transportation and local government general fund accounts.
Tax cases aimed at similar practices in other states involving online travel companies have had mixed success.