Retail Groups Battle Visa Over Records in Swipe-Fee Suit

NEW YORK -- A lawyer for retailers opposing the estimated $7.25-billion swipe fee settlement with Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. was back in court yesterday seeking access to all records in the case, including some that Visa has determined to be "highly confidential."

According to Business Week, Jeffrey Shinder made his argument to U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y. Shinder represents four trade associations who are against the proposed deal -- including NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing.

"We're simply asking for our clients to have what they had throughout the litigation," he told Orenstein. Orenstein declined to make a ruling today and asked Shinder to revise his request.

The proposed settlement reached in July would bring to a close the seven-year lawsuit against Visa, MasterCard and more than a dozen of the country's largest banks that issue the companies' cards. NACS is a plaintiff in the legal action and was one of the first to raise objections to the deal, as CSNews Online previously reported. Its board of directors -- composed of more than two dozen merchants, unanimously rejected the proposed settlement agreement because it does not introduce competition and transparency into the credit card swipe fee market.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit have until Oct. 19 to formally request approval of the settlement.

Visa has alleged that Shinder may present a risk for "inadvertent disclosure" of the company's business secrets because he and his firm also represent its competitors. Shinder served as a lawyer for Discover Financial Services in the interchange fee suit, according to court records. His firm, Constantine Cannon, is also advising a mobile-payment venture, the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), he said in a Sept. 25 letter he submitted to the court, Business Week reported.

MCX was formed by merchants including Target Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which also oppose the credit card fee settlement. Neither retailer is a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

The news outlet also reported the deal, which requires approval from a federal judge, would be the largest-ever recovery in an antitrust case and would include about seven million merchants, according to Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP, a law firm representing plaintiffs that support the settlement.

K. Craig Wildfang, a lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, told Orenstein in court today that "we're down to the fine-drafting issues" on the formal motion seeking preliminary approval of the deal.


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