U.S. District Court Judge John Gleeson on Friday issued a decision granting final approval to the proposed settlement of In re Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation. This litigation involves complaints filed in 2005 by the National Grocers Association (NGA) and other associations and merchants against Visa, MasterCard and some of the nation’s largest banks alleging they violated antitrust laws by fixing the prices of credit card interchange fees, also known as “swipe fees,” and setting anti-competitive rules. The settlement is subject to appeal, which has already been filed.
Peter J. Larkin, president and CEO of NGA, released the following statement regarding Gleeson’s decision:
“NGA has consistently expressed opposition to the settlement that was issued in July 2012 due to its failure to provide meaningful relief for merchants and consumers from excessive credit card swipe fees, and places restrictions on a merchant’s ability to seek further relief in the courts. While we anticipated that a decision of final approval was likely, NGA and hundreds of retailers joined in stating their objections to the proposed settlement, and we expect that many of those who opposed the approval, including our organization, will join in appealing this decision.”
In July 2012, the NGA board voted unanimously to oppose the settlement agreement. NGA voiced its strong opposition to final approval of the proposed settlement at the fairness hearing before Gleeson on Sept. 22, 2013.
Merchant competition, state laws and settlement restrictions make the modifications to the no surcharge rule illusory and ineffective to create a transparent, competitive market, according to NGA. When NGA and other named plaintiffs brought this case in 2005, the purpose was to bring about true reforms to the anticompetitive credit card market place that exists.