After more than ten years of litigation, the Payment Card Interchange Fee Settlement is moving forward. Eligible merchants will be able to seek reimbursement for a portion of their interchange fees paid during a fifteen-year period, from January 2004 – January 2019. During a recent Status Conference last week on September 7th, the Court:
1. Approved the proposed claim form;
2. Approved the Settlement Administrator to begin sending claim forms to class members December 2023; and
3. Approved the Settlement Administrator’s plan to hire a PR firm to advertise the opportunity to all eligible merchants and create awareness surrounding this opportunity.
What does this mean for your business?
If you accepted Visa and MasterCard anytime from 2004 to 2019, then you may be eligible to share in the $5.4 Billion dollar class action settlement.
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A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld a $5.4 billion antitrust class-action settlement
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan rejected claims that a class action should not have been certified because of confusion over who deserved compensation. Among the objectors were a group of gas station operators for oil companies such as Chevron (CVX.N) and Shell (SHEL.L). The operators and the companies both claimed to have been injured after accepting Visa and MasterCard for gas sales. Circuit Judge Dennis Jacobs said that although their dispute may need to be resolved in court, but it was "no reason" to delay payouts to other class members.
The settlement resolved claims that Visa and MasterCard overcharged retailers on interchange fees, or swipe fees, when shoppers used credit or debit cards, and barred retailers from directing customers toward cheaper means of payment.
The settlement had won approval from U.S. District Judge Margo Brodie in Brooklyn in Dec. 2019, three-and-a-half years after the appeals court voided a $7.25 billion accord approved by a different judge because it shortchanged some retailers. While upholding the latest settlement, Jacobs said the outcome was "so remarkable as to prompt disquiet."
He said this was in part because the retailers' lawyers had billed for 630,000 hours of work, or about 72 calendar years, and could collect more if Visa and MasterCard's anticompetitive behavior resumed and more litigation ensued.
The case is Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 20-339.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Josie Kao. Reuters News Service
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