ATM ANTITRUST LAWSUIT EXPLAINED
Hagens Berman filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that Visa and MasterCard, together with Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo, violated federal antitrust laws by establishing uniform agreements with U.S. banks that issue automated teller machine (ATM) cards, preventing ATM operators from setting ATM access fees below the level of the fees charged on Visa’s and MasterCard’s networks. These agreements allegedly eliminate competition in the marketplace for ATM network services, causing ATM fees to be higher than they should be.
The lawsuit asked the court to issue an injunction preventing Visa and MasterCard from enforcing fee restrictions on ATMs. The suit also sought damages for the allegedly higher prices consumers were forced to pay to use ATMs across the country.
HOW THE CLASS ACTION PROGRESSED
The District Court dismissed the complaint and denied plaintiffs’ request to amend it. Plaintiffs appealed to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court held oral arguments on the appeal in February 2015, and made the decision to reverse the dismissal of the case. In November 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed an appeal from Visa and Mastercard to overturn the D.C. Circuit Court’s decision.
In October 2020, Hagens Berman reached a settlement agreement with the banks valued at $66.7 million on behalf of consumers, but in October 2021, Visa and Mastercard appealed a federal judge’s class certification in the case. Defendants asked the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to reevaluate the certification. In July 2023, the Circuit Court reaffirmed the federal judge’s class certification, and Visa and Mastercard petitioned the court to reconsider. In September 2023, the Circuit Court announced that it would not rehear its order upholding the class certification, and the case will proceed toward trial.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals declined Visa and Mastercard’s petition to rehear its order upholding the federal judge’s class certification in this case.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed the federal judge’s class certification.
Visa and Mastercard appealed the federal judge’s class certification.
U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon rejected Visa and Mastercard’s arguments against class certification, and certified a class of ATM operators who had unlawfully been overcharged for network fees and two consumer classes who had been overcharged for access fees at ATM terminals.
Steve Berman said, "Not only is this settlement a tremendous return for consumers, it also serves as a reminder that transparency and fairness are standards that cannot be skirted without a heavy penalty."
The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a petition from Visa and Mastercard to overturn the D.C. Circuit Court’s decision to revive the class action.
Steve Berman said, "This is a big win for consumers, as we believe this case will bring not only damages caused by the anti-competitive acts of Visa and MasterCard, but also an injunction that will spark competition in the ATM market."