Group Urges Judge to Reject Fee-Fixing Settlement

NEW YORK (AP) -- The National Retail Federation on Tuesday urged a federal judge to reject a proposed $7.2 billion settlement with Visa (NYSE: V  ) and MasterCard (NYSE: MA  ) over alleged fee-fixing.

Retailers had until Tuesday to opt out of the agreement, if they wished to pursue future legal action. Retailers who didn't opt out by the deadline were automatically be considered to have accepted the settlement.

Last week, Macy's (NYSE: M  ) , Target (NYSE: TGT  ) , and other major retailers rejected the settlement and filed their own lawsuit.

In its brief filed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, N.Y., the National Retail Federation called the settlement a "surrender" that doesn't address price fixing by the credit card processing companies and their banks.

Visa, MasterCard, and other card companies agreed in July to settle a lawsuit brought by retailers in 2005 that claimed card issuers conspired to fix the fees they charge stores for accepting credit cards.

The National Retail Federation, representing more than 9,000 retailers across the country, has rejected the settlement, in part, because it includes a provision barring retailers from filing future lawsuits over swipe fees. Retailers have also argued that the settlement was far less than what retailers deserved and might have won at trial.

Visa and MasterCard have called the settlement a fair compromise and said that they're confident that it will ultimately be approved by the court.

The 2005 suit was brought by 19 trade associations and retail companies. The National Retail Federation is not a party to the lawsuit, but says its members would be affected by the terms of the settlement.


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