LOS ANGELES (AP) — A court fight over retail operations at one of the nation's busiest airports led to a charges Friday that passengers are being gouged on bottled water prices.
Legal papers filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by boutique retailer Kitson Stores said Hudson Group, which operates many shops at Los Angeles International Airport, is exploiting travelers with "hugely" inflated water prices.
The two sides have been exchanging accusations over business operations and licensing arrangements at the airport, which attracts 70 million travelers annually.
Kitson says New Jersey-based Hudson refused to sell bottled water at the airport's two Kitson shops it operates at $2.55 for a liter. Instead, Hudson charges consumers about $5 a bottle at the stores, the court filing said.
Kitson argues that Hudson is trying to force its stores out of the airport because of the friction over water prices.
"Water is one of the most basic necessities for travelers and Hudson is taking advantage of the post- 9-11 airport restrictions" by inflating water prices, Kitson attorney Steven Bledsoe said in a telephone interview. "We believe that Hudson has breached its contracts with Kitson and has no right to close the Kitson stores."
Hudson attorney Brian Timmons called the Kitson claim a publicity stunt intended to divert attention from its failure to meet contractual obligations.
In a statement, he said Hudson is moving forward with plans to terminate the relationship. Last month, Hudson filed a complaint in Superior Court against the boutique company for breach of contract.
"Kitson is known for selling pricey items in its high end boutiques," Timmons said. "Anyone who thinks that Kitson is really motivated here by an altruistic concern over how much consumers are paying for water at LAX has either never shopped at a Kitson store or is really naive."