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U.S. Merchants To Receive $1.1 Billion Payment In Landmark Visa/MasterCard Antitrust Litigation

Posted  December 9, 2009

Yesterday, Constantine Cannon LLP, Lead Counsel for the Class of U.S. merchants in the case captioned In re Visa Check/MasterMoney Antitrust Litigation, announced that Class Members nationwide will be mailed checks this week totaling approximately $1.1 billion as part of a landmark antitrust settlement with Visa and MasterCard over practices related to their signature debit cards.

This distribution represents the final large-scale disbursement of a $3.4 billion settlement with Visa and MasterCard in the Visa Check/MasterMoney litigation that was negotiated in 2003 by Constantine Cannon (formerly Constantine & Partners) after a seven-year litigation battle.  This week’s payments accelerate a payment schedule that was not set to end until 2012.

Checks are being mailed this week to approximately 634,000 merchants in the United States who filed approved claims, and will provide a unique boost to profits in the midst of an especially difficult holiday retail season.  With retail operating margins for most retailers averaging less than 5 percent, the $1.1 billion payment is equivalent to a $22 billion increase in merchants’ overall holiday revenue.

UPDATE 12/10/09:  To view CNBC’s Report on this development, click here:  Billion Dollar Gift for Retailers.

UPDATE 12/18/09:  See related article from the Seattle Times:  Starbucks,, other Seattle firms receive $16.8M in Visa, MasterCard settlement

The Visa Check/MasterMoney litigation remains the largest antitrust settlement in U.S. history.  In addition to the monetary compensation to merchants, the settlement ended Visa and MasterCard practices that forced merchants to accept exorbitantly-priced Visa and MasterCard-branded signature debit card transactions as a condition of accepting Visa and MasterCard credit card transactions.  The settlement also required Visa and MasterCard debit cards to be clearly marked as debit cards so that they could be easily distinguished from Visa and MasterCard credit cards.  The Court in the case estimated that the total value of injunctive relief ranged from $25 to $87 billion.

The case has also been in the news recently because of the October 2009 publication of Priceless: The Case That Brought Down The Visa/MasterCard Bank Cartel, by Lloyd Constantine, founder of and Counsel to Constantine Cannon and the lead attorney and driving force behind the Visa/MasterCard litigation.  The book offers an inside look at the high-stakes litigation that led to a dramatic settlement on the eve of trial.

To view our earlier post on Lloyd’s book, click here.

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