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Many West Virginians could benefit from NASCAR lawsuit

by James Fisher

REGIONAL WRITER

An $11 million class action lawsuit alleging price fixing at NASCAR Winston Cup race tracks over the past decade could benefit thousands of West Virginians who attended races in the 1990s.

The lawsuit was filed in Georgia in 1997 and includes a class of anyone who purchased souvenirs or NASCAR memorabilia at tracks between Jan. 1, 1991, and Dec. 31, 1999. Because the settlement agreement was approved, anyone who files a claim by Nov. 30 is eligible to receive money and/or coupons for additional purchases, according to Craig Harley, one of the attorneys representing the class.

No figures are available about how many West Virginians may be entitled to recoup losses incurred by purchasing the items, Harley said, but he anticipates the amount to be substantial given the growing popularity of the sport.

Many NASCAR fans in North Central West Virginia were not even aware a lawsuit had been filed. Several said last week they were unsure if they would file a claim.

"The last time I attended a race was in '93 or '94," said John Probst of Buckhannon. "I'm not even sure I ever got a receipt and if I did, I have no idea where it would be. I know you can still file a claim without a receipt, but it's kind of like, what's the point?"

Probst pointed out that while the total for the reimbursement was more than $11 million, given the sheer number of fans at races and the immense time period, it would not come out to more than a few dollars per person.

"That still doesn't make it right if they did get together to jack up the prices," he said.

The suit alleged the 20 defendants engaged in an illegal conspiracy to fix the prices of souvenirs and merchandise at NASCAR Winston Cup events and supporting events, such as Busch Series races and other races at the tracks during the same weekends.

The suit covers nine NASCAR Winston Cup seasons, which consist of 34 races across the country. Attendance at races often is more than 100,000, he said, although repeat visitors can cut that number.

Claim forms can be printed from the Web site, www.stockcarnotice.com, or by calling the Motorsports Merchandise Antitrust Litigation in Minneapolis at (800) 848-4718.

Regional writer James Fisher can be reached at 626-1446

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