Court Denies Request to Expedite Appeal in Swipe-Fee Settlement Case

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied a request from Home Depot Inc. and other merchants to expedite the appeals process for the $7.25 billion settlement of the class-action swipe fee lawsuit against Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc., the Associated Press reported.

The court stated it was deferring briefing for an appeal of the settlement until the preliminary deal receives final approval from the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, where the litigation is currently pending. A ruling on final approval is expected next year, according to the news outlet.

"It offers little change to the anticompetitive practices of Visa and MasterCard, while it grants virtual immunity from future antitrust challenges for these financial services companies and their banking partners," a Home Depot spokesman said in response to the denial. "With that in mind, we have filed our objections with the court and continue to weigh our options with regard to the settlement."

As CSNews Online has reported in its ongoing coverage, the retail community has vocally opposed the proposed settlement since it was struck in July. The deal would end the seven-year class-action lawsuit that alleges that Visa and MasterCard, along with large banks that issue credit cards, conspired to set fees at arbitrarily high levels. The settlement would pay $6.05 billion to as many as eight million merchants, and temporarily reduce fees by $1.2 billion total.

Multiple retail and trade groups, including NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing, have objected to the settlement, stating that it would not introduce competition and transparency into the credit card swipe fee market.

"While we are disappointed with the ruling, we are very confident in our position and will be prepared to show at the final approval hearing that the settlement both violates due process and is plainly inadequate as a solution to the market failures that plague this industry," stated Jeff Shinder, a managing partner with Constantine Cannon LLP, which represents several of the named plaintiffs who joined in Home Depot's request for an expedited appeals process.

The decision to deny the request to expedite the appeals process was included in a letter filed in district court yesterday by attorneys who represent the class of merchants, the AP reported.

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