In a bad day in court for the card firms, a federal appeals court has revived ATM access fee litigation against Visa and MasterCard, while in a separate case a judge has rejected American Express's interchange fee class action settlement.
According to Reuters, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has decided that a district court erred when it ruled consumers had no standing to sue Visa, MasterCard and several major banks for conspiring to inflate the prices of ATM access fees in violation of antitrust law.
The decision revives three class action suits, two brought by consumers and another from independent ATM operators, that say the card giants adopted rules that blocked cash machine operators from charging less when transactions were processed by rival networks.
Meanwhile, a proposed class action settlement between American Express and merchants who sued the company over interchange fees has been rejected by a judge who decided that a lawyer for the merchants compromised the fairness of the agreement.
In a conflict of interest, the lawyer, Gary Friedman, shared confidential information about the case with a friend who represented MasterCard in a parallel case. Friedman even wrote in two emails "burn after reading," according to Reuters.
US District Judge Nicholas Garaufis has ordered Friedman removed as co-lead counsel and called for a new round of written briefs for the case, the original settlement of which would have allowed merchants to impose surcharges on AmEx users.