The deadline for retailers to submit claim forms in the Visa Check/MasterMoney antitrust class action lawsuit has been extended for 90 days, according to a recent advisory from Constantine Cannon, lead counsel for the plaintiffs. Class members that received a claim form, which includes an estimated cash payment, now have until December 28, 2005, to submit the claim form or to challenge the estimated cash payment amount.
Class members that consolidate claim forms received at different store locations into one form or who claim an additional cash payment based upon their acceptance of PIN debit will receive a revised claim form. Class members that receive a revised claim form will have 90 days from the mailing of the revised form to submit the new claim or to challenge their estimated cash payment.
In addition, the advisory notes that merchants who receive both a claim form with an estimated cash payment (VM1) and a claim form that does not contain an estimated cash payment (VM2) should disregard the VM2 claim form and complete the VM1 claim form.
The suit against Visa USA Inc. and MasterCard International Inc. was first filed in October 1996 by U.S. merchants who argued that Visa and MasterCard's "honor all cards" practice -- requiring retailers to accept both credit cards and the Visa/MasterCard debit cards -- was a violation of federal antitrust law. Plaintiffs in the case included about 20 of the nation's largest retailers, including Wal-Mart and Sears, Roebuck & Co. In addition to the named plaintiffs, the lawsuit was a class action representing any merchant that had accepted Visa or MasterCard debit cards since October 1992, or approximately five million large and small retailers, including independent booksellers.
The settlement in the Visa Check/MasterMoney lawsuit provides over $3.38 billion in compensatory relief and an injunction valued by the court in the range of $25 billion to $87 billion to merchants and consumers over the next decade, according to a July 20 Advisory from Constantine to the merchants in the Class.
Each merchant will receive a percentage of the damages based on its volume of debit and credit card transactions between October 25, 1992, and July 31, 2003, meaning larger retailers will receive a larger percentage. However, in September 2003, Constantine told BTW, "Even with a small store, the claim could likely be a couple of hundred dollars."
The claims administrator can be reached via phone at (888) 641-4437 (toll-free); via e-mail at email@example.com; or by mail to Visa Check/MasterMoney Antitrust Litigation, Claims Administrator, P.O. Box 9000 #6014, Merrick, NY 11566-9000. Free help in completing the forms is available by calling the toll-free help-line at (888) 641-4437 or visiting the case website, www.inrevisacheckmastermoneyantitrustlitigation.com/.
Copies of this Advisory and the entire Plan of Allocation can be obtained at the case website.