Dec 10 A U.S. appeals court refused to hear an
expedited appeal of the preliminary approval of a $7.2 billion
settlement between Visa Inc, Mastercard Inc. and
merchants over credit card fees.
In a brief order, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in
New York denied one objecting merchant, The Home Depot's
, request for expedited arguments and a decision on its
The court also said all other objecting parties' briefs on
their appeals should not be filed until after the U.S. District
Court for the Eastern District of New York has issued final
approval of the settlement. A hearing on final approval is
expected to be scheduled for sometime next year.
The deal, which received preliminary approval last month,
would be the largest federal antitrust settlement in U.S.
history, offering nearly 8 million merchants $7.2 billion in
cash and temporary reductions in the interchange, or swipe fees,
they pay to process credit and debit transactions.
Many of the merchants supported the deal, but dozens of
retailers and trade groups that brought the proposed class
action, including The Home Depot, objected to a portion of the
settlement that would release Visa and Mastercard from new legal
claims over related interchange issues
Hundreds of merchants, including the world's largest
retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc, also have objected to the
proposed settlement, claiming it offers meaningless relief for
merchants saddled with an estimated $30 billion in annual swipe
Home Depot did not immediately respond to a request for
Jeff Shindler, a lawyer who represents a group of plaintiffs
objecting to the settlement, said his clients remain confident
in their position and will contine to "press that position at
every turn going forward."
However, Craig Wildfang, co-lead counsel for the merchants
who support the deal, welcomed the court's decision.
"We're happy that the 2nd Circuit has agreed with us that
there's no imminent harm to anyone from preliminary approval and
that [the court] is letting the approval process play out," he
said. Plaintiffs supporting the settlement include Payless
Trisha Wexler, a spokeswoman for the Electronic Payments
Coalition, an industry group that represents Visa and
Mastercard, said the group expected the settlement to now move
forward as planned.