Visa Sues Walmart Over Swipe Fee Settlement Opt-Out

NEW YORK -– Visa Inc. filed suit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. this week in order to halt future litigation over credit card swipe fees, according to a Bloomberg report. The retailer is one of several that recently opted out of a proposed $7.2 billion class-action settlement with Visa and MasterCard Inc. over price-fixing claims, as CSNews Online previously reported.

In its complaint to a Brooklyn, N.Y., federal court, Visa stated that it seeks to prevent "the continuation of endless, wasteful litigation between the parties," and that "put simply, Visa seeks finality in its dispute with Wal-Mart."

Wal-Mart is among the more than 7,000 retailers that dropped out of the settlement, which would end an eight-year legal battle over credit card interchange fees and pay retailers more than $6 billion, as well as temporarily lower fees that could equal as much as $1.2 billion in retailer’s pockets. A hearing for final approval of the settlement is scheduled for Sept. 12.

Those that opted out of the settlement have the option to file their own lawsuits over the swipe fees, and Visa stated in its complaint that Wal-Mart "has made plain" it will do so.

Wal-Mart itself stated that it is still evaluating whether to pursue its own lawsuit, said Randy Hargrove, spokesman for the Bentonville, Ark.-based company.

"We are disappointed that Visa chose to file this unwarranted and unsupportable lawsuit in retaliation for our decision to opt out and object to an unfair settlement agreement," Hargrove said in a statement. "The proposed settlement would allow credit card companies and big banks to perpetuate a broken system that costs consumers billions of dollars each year."

However, Visa CEO Charlie Scharf stated that this lawsuit is intended to protect its interests.

"We remain committed to engaging with Wal-Mart and all merchants to resolve our differences amicably, while seeking new ways to work with our merchant partners and support our mutual growth objectives," Scharf said in a statement.

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