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No Early Appeal in Visa/MasterCard Suit Settlement

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No Early Appeal in Visa/MasterCard Suit Settlement

A federal appeals court has turned down an early appeal request by retailers objecting to the settlement offer by Visa and MasterCard in an antitrust suit that has dragged on for seven years.

In November, U.S. Court Judge John Gleeson gave preliminary approval to the settlement, which, at $7.25 billion, would be the largest antitrust settlement in history if it goes through. Many retailers balked at the offer, saying that the settlement didn’t go far enough in solving the problems raised by the suit, and would prevent further legal action on the part of the plaintiffs down the road.

The suit is over interchange fees, also called swipe fees. These are credit card processing fees that retailers must pay every time a customer uses a credit card. They amount to approximately 2% of the total purchase price costing merchants billions of dollars each year. Smaller retailers claim that the fees hurt their business’s bottom line, and some want to pass the fees on to customers. The settlement would allow them to do that.

Early appeal requested and denied

Home Depot was one of several retailers trying to appeal the preliminary offer before it becomes final. Many major retailers are unhappy with the deal, including Walmart, Starbucks, and the National Retail Federation (NRF).

A court filing on November 29 by retailers who protest the settlement, including Home Depot, asked for the early appeal because they say an injunction granted by Judge Gleeson prevents them from opting out of the settlement or bringing future lawsuits.

However, a federal appeals court in New York turned down that request on Monday, deferring the case until after the final approval and judgment is handed down.  The final approval hearing in the case is scheduled for September 2013.

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