U.S. court hears challenge to $5.7 billion Visa, MasterCard settlement

Mon Sep 28, 2015 5:03pm EDT
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By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Monday weighed whether to uphold the approval of an estimated $5.7 billion antitrust settlement by MasterCard Inc (MA.N: Quote) and Visa Inc (V.N: Quote) with merchants over credit card fees despite the objection of several major retailers.

A lawyer for retailers including Target Corp (TGT.N: Quote) and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O: Quote) urged the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York to reject the deal, saying it forces merchants to give up their rights to sue over various policies and practices.

"The defendants are trying to buy something that is not for sale," said Thomas Goldstein, the lawyer.

But Paul Clement, a lawyer for merchants who negotiated the deal, said the settlement was fair and provided not just $5.7 billion but reforms an expert valued as worth up to $62 billion.

"There was meaningful relief here," he said.

The settlement, the largest in a U.S. antitrust class action, resolved lawsuits by merchants pending since 2005. The lawsuits accused Visa and MasterCard of fixing the fees they were charged each time customers used credit or debit cards.

Merchants also claimed Visa and MasterCard prevented retailers from encouraging customers to use cheaper payment methods.

U.S. District Judge John Gleeson in Brooklyn in 2013 approved the deal, saying it provided significant monetary award and meaningful relief.   Continued...

A logo of Mastercard is seen at the Mastercard Centre in Beijing, October 30, 3014.  REUTERS/Jason Lee