ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Judge Margo Brodie of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on December 13 approved a $5.54 billion settlement in the long-running litigation brought by NACS and other merchants against Visa, MasterCard and the largest card-issuing banks (Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation, MDL 1720).
The settlement provides $5.54 billion to the class of merchants that accepted Visa or MasterCard cards at any time since January 1, 2004. The settlement only applies to those businesses that have not already settled their claims against the defendants. The settlement also does not resolve the ongoing class action claims against the defendants seeking changes to the Visa and MasterCard rules. The case seeking that relief will continue to be litigated, along with lawsuits by several groups of merchants that chose to separately pursue their own legal claims.
The settlement of the monetary claims, however, is a turning point in the long-running litigation and will lead to financial relief for participating merchants. Merchants that received a notice about the settlement earlier in the year will receive a claim form once it is ready. Merchants must submit claim forms to receive any settlement funds. More information about the settlement and claims process is available at www.PaymentCardSettlement.com or by calling (800) 625-6440.
The claims process may be delayed by appeals. One expected appeal is likely to address the issue of major oil brands seeking to receive funds rather than the businesses that sell fuel under their brands. That issue was also the subject of a new notice that was approved by the court last week as reported in NACS Daily.
It is not clear when the claims process will start or how long it will take, nor is it clear how long the ongoing litigation against Visa’s and MasterCard’s rules will continue. Given the likelihood of appeals and the litigation process, merchants should expect that both will take years to reach resolution.