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(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced that $2.9 million from the antitrust settlement with the Nine-West Group will be used to support California domestic violence shelters, the prevention and prosecution of domestic violence against women, and informational and legal assistance to women with gynecological or breast cancer under a court-approved plan.
"The Nine-West antitrust case involved the alleged fixing of retail prices for women's shoes for over a decade," Lockyer said. "Through the services targeted for grant support, California women from all walks of life will be able to benefit from this settlement."
Under the plan approved by the US District Court in New York, the settlement funds will be used for one-time grants as follows
*$1 million to supplement state funding for domestic violence centers serving more than a dozen communities. Many of these centers have been operating for over 20 years. Centers receiving support grants will include: Tri-Valley Haven in Livermore; Women's Shelter in Long Beach; Victor Valley Domestic Violence, Inc. in Victorville; La Casa de San Mateo in Burlingame; and Haven's Women Center in Modesto. Additionally, a consultant will be working closely with the shelters to develop "best practices" guidelines and protocols for effective nonprofit management for sharing with domestic violence shelters statewide. The grants will be overseen by the California Department of Health Services.
*$1 million to assist local law enforcement agencies in the prevention and prosecution of domestic violence against women. Local grants will be made through the Spousal Abuser Prosecution Program in the California Department of Justice. The bulk of the money will be used to enhance investigations, reduce current caseload backlogs, and assist existing multi-disciplinary vertical prosecution teams, which allows a victim to work with the same prosecutor and investigator from the time charges are filed through the sentencing of the offender. Grants totaling $400,000 also will be made to improve outreach to underserved women, such as those who rarely contact service providers or law enforcement agencies to escape domestic violence because of language, cultural or disability barriers.
*$400,000 to expand legal services available to women with breast cancer who may face legal problems ranging from employment discrimination, difficulty accessing Family and Medical Leave, disputes with insurance companies, to lack of access to medical treatment or follow-up health care. The grant to the California Women's Law Center, Breast Cancer Legal Project, will allow services to be expanded for two years. The grant also will support development of informational materials in a variety of languages and training for advocates who speak other than English to help women overcome the legal cultural and linguistic barriers that many women in California face.
*$500,000 to the Gynecological Cancer Information Program in the Department of Health Services for the development of fact sheets and pamphlets in six languages to educate women about gynocological cancer. Health officials consider this kind of outreach an important investment for prevention and to avoid the need for more costly health care for cancer victims.
The settlement resolves an antitrust complaint that Nine West Group entered into illegal agreements with shoe stores to fix the retail price of women's shoes between January 1988 and July 1999. Nine West Group of White Plains, NY, was acquired by Jones Apparel Group, Inc., in June 1999. According to the antitrust complaint filed in federal court in New York by California and numerous other states, the company's alleged price fixing resulted in consumers being denied an open, competitive market and paying higher prices for women's shoes and other footware. An investigation by the states with the Federal Trade Commission found evidence that various Nine West divisions, including Easy Spirit, Enzo Angiolini and Nine West, engaged in illegal vertical resale price fixing by prohibiting retailers from discounting certain footware and by restricting when the stores could offer shoe discounts to consumers.