Merchants challenging Visa and MasterCard over interchange fees in the Second Circuit are taking issue with a $7.25 billion settlement sought by the networks, claiming the deal would provide limited and temporary relief to the class while giving the defendants permanent and wide-ranging relief. The primary issue, according to the merchants, is that the proposed settlement, approved in 2013, only prohibits the payments networks from banning surcharges on credit card transactions through 2021, while class members are required to release any and all claims they may ever have. According to the merchants, the result of this aspect of the deal will be to force millions of current and future merchants to give away their right to challenge the payments networks after 2021, with no opportunity to opt out.
The defendants and supporting plaintiffs, however, disagree with the challenging merchants’ assessment. They maintain that nothing in the settlement would prevent merchants from bringing antitrust claims to challenge the defendants for prospectively imposing rules that are prohibited by the settlement’s injunctive relief or any similar rules.