Unsealed Court Documents in Visa, MasterCard Anti-Trust Case

SEATTLE – According to Steve Berman, an attorney leading a massive class-action effort on behalf of retailers against Visa and MasterCard, the release of court-sealed documents today shows just a portion of what his suit contends was a massive, well-organized scheme by the credit card titans to stifle competition by debit card rivals.

"When we filed the proposed class-action suit six years ago, we had a clear picture of what we regarded as a brutal campaign to force retailers to use the defendants' more expensive debit cards," Berman said. "Since then, we've amassed a great deal of information, and the court documents released today show just some of the evidence that we will present at trial."

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the case to move forward as a class, representing five million retailers, including Wal-Mart, Sears, and Safeway.

The suit alleges that the two credit card companies responded to competitive threats from smaller debit card companies by creating their own less-efficient debit system and using their market dominance to force retailers to use it.

"We will show that Visa and MasterCard gave retailers no option - retailers were forced to accept the debit system or risk losing access to credit-card processing," Berman said. "Further, we intend to prove that Visa and MasterCard conspired to create confusion among consumers about the difference between credit cards and debit cards, all intended to drive business through their jack-legged system."

The offline debit transactions offered by the defendant companies cost up to 16 times more than competing networks, with Visa and MasterCard charging as much as $1.49 for a $100 transaction compared to nine cents for online debit transactions through competing regional networks such as STAR.

U.S. District Court Judge John Glesson ordered court documents unsealed, agreeing with media contentions that the documents' public interest outweighed other considerations. Those documents are available at www.hagens-berman.com.

"We agree with the Judge's ruling that there is a compelling public interest," Berman said. "The documents paint a very vivid picture of these activities, and this is only part of what we plan to show as the case proceeds."

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About Hagens Berman
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights class-action law firm with offices in nine cities. The firm has been named to the National Law Journal’s Plaintiffs’ Hot List seven times. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.

Ashley Klann
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