For anyone who follows the credit card landscape, if you were to talk about potential litigation in the marketplace, the conversation would turn toward Visa and MasterCard. This blog has covered the lawsuits that have been filed by multiple merchants against the card providers when it comes to swipe fees per transaction.
However, they are not the only card providers that have faced legal trouble. According to an article from Reuters, American Express, Citigroup and Discover Financial were just on the winning side of a ruling by U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan.
This has been a decade-long court battle between consumers and these three credit card providers. It stems from an alleged conspiracy and collusion to require disputes be settled in arbitration instead of through a class action lawsuit. The plaintiffs argued that between May 1999 and October 2003, 10 card-issuing banks and their lawyers held 28 meetings to add mandatory arbitration clauses.
This kind of conspiracy would be a violation of the Sherman antitrust law.
Judge Pauley ruled in favor of the credit card companies because "plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that the lawyers who organized these meetings had spawned a Sherman Act conspiracy among their clients."
Curtis Arnold, a consumer advocate and founder of CardRatings.com, told the news source that this is a big dent for consumers' rights. The reason for this is that the class action lawsuits have always been a way to keep the industry in check.
This is news that will peak the interest of some in the credit card payment processing industry as it could change the minds of some consumers when they are picking a credit card.