Press release from PR Newswire
Hagens Berman Files Lawsuit Against Visa, MasterCard, Alleging ATM Fee Price-Fixing
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
NEW YORK, Oct. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Hagens Berman today announced it has filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that Visa (NYSE: V) and MasterCard (NYSE: MA) violated antitrust laws by establishing uniform agreements with U.S. banks that issue automated teller machine (ATM) cards, preventing ATM operators from setting transaction fees below those of Visa and MasterCard. This agreement allegedly eliminates competition in the marketplace for ATM network services, causing ATM fees to be higher than they should be.
Filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Oct. 17, 2011, the lawsuit claims that the agreements between Visa and MasterCard and the nation's banks require that ATMs charge fees equal to or greater than Visa or MasterCard's transaction fees, even if the transaction occurs over an alternative network.
The complaint alleges that the agreements with the banks effectively strip ATM owners and operators of the power to make decisions on ATM fee pricing, preventing them from offering discounts to consumers or making any other decisions that would otherwise exist in a competitive market. As a result, those who have been charged a fee at an ATM may, according to the lawsuit, have paid a higher fee than would exist in a market free from the alleged illegal agreements.
"Visa and MasterCard's tactics have put a competitive straightjacket on ATM operators," said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman. "Without the ability to set fees, consumers are left with only two options: pay these ATM fees which are higher than they should be, or don't use ATMs at all."
In 2007, U.S. cardholders used Visa's platform to access $395 billion in cash, according to the complaint. During that same year, consumers used MasterCard-branded cards to access $202 billion in cash.
The lawsuit asks the court to issue an injunction, preventing Visa and MasterCard from enforcing fee restrictions on ATMs. The suit also seeks damages for the allegedly higher prices consumers were forced to pay to use ATMs across the country.
This is not the first time Hagens Berman has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Visa and MasterCard. Previously, the firm acted as co-lead counsel in a case that alleged both companies engaged in anticompetitive activities relating to debit cards and negotiated a $3.05 billion settlement, with injunctive relief valued at more than $20 billion.
Hagens Berman invites potential plaintiffs to contact the office at ATMAntitrust@hbsslaw.com or by phone at 206-623-7292.
You can learn more about this case by visiting http://www.hbsslaw.com/ATMAntitrust.
About Hagens Berman
Seattle-based Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a class-action law firm with offices in 10 cities. The firm represents consumers, whistleblowers, investors and workers in complex litigation. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. The firm's blog can be found at www.classactionlawtoday.com.
Contact: Mark Firmani, Firmani + Associates Inc., 206.443.9357 or email@example.com.
SOURCE Hagens Berman