Priceline Loses Bid To Participate In Payment Card Settlement
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has affirmed a lower court’s ruling that Priceline.com, Inc. did not fit the definition of a class member described in a $336 million antitrust class action settlement agreement that resolves claims of price fixing in the consumer payment card industry.
The plaintiffs in the In re Currency Conversion Fee Antitrust Litigation alleged a price-fixing conspiracy among Visa, MasterCard, Citicorp Diners Club, Inc., and a number of banks. The class consisted of credit card holders who claimed that the defendants conspired to fix the price of foreign currency conversion fees paid by the class while traveling internationally.
The class and the defendants reached settlement in July 2006, but the district court held that Priceline, along with travel websites Travelocity and Orbitz, could not participate in the class settlement because their customers, not the companies themselves, paid the transaction fees at issue.
Although subsequent disclosures revealed that Priceline did not in fact pass along the fees to its customers, the Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling, holding that Priceline could not reasonably be considered a “card holder” under any definition of the term, noting that “Priceline’s relationship with the credit card companies evinces a more complicated relationship than that of other members of the class in this matter.”