Visa declined to comment on the suit, filed Tuesday in the U.S.
District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, where Wal-Mart
Visa and other card networks charge retailers fees, called swipe
fees or interchange fees, each time a shopper uses a debit or credit
card to pay.
In December, a federal judge in Brooklyn, N.Y., approved a $5.7
billion class action settlement between merchants and Visa and
MasterCard despite the objections of thousands of retailers that
complained it was inadequate.
Wal-Mart, Amazon.com Inc, and Target Corp were among those opting
out of the monetary components of the settlement to have the freedom
to seek damages on their own.
Those businesses complained about a broad litigation release in the
settlement. The release forces all merchants who accepted Visa or
MasterCard, and those who will in the future, to give up their right
to sue the credit card companies over rules at issue in the case or
similar ones they may make in the future.
Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, is seeking damages from
price fixing and other antitrust violations that it claims took
place between January 1, 2004 and November 27, 2012.
In its lawsuit, Wal-Mart contends that Visa, in concert with banks,
sought to prevent retailers from protecting themselves against those
swipe fees, eventually hurting sales.
"The anticompetitive conduct of Visa and the banks forced Wal-Mart
to raise retail prices paid by its customers and/or reduce retail
services provided to its customers as a means of offsetting some of
the artificially inflated interchange fees," Wal-Mart said in court
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"As a result, Wal-Mart's retail sales were below what they would
have been otherwise."
When asked whether Wal-Mart would file a suit against Mastercard, a
spokesman for the retailer said the company would not discuss its
litigation plans publicly.
Wal-Mart contends that that the way Visa set swipe fees violated
antitrust regulations and generated more than $350 billion for card
issuers over the nearly 9-year period in question, in part at the
expense of the retailer and customers.
The case is in re: Wal-Mart Stores, U.S. District Court, Western
District of Arkansas, No. 05101.
(Reporting by Phil Wahba in New York; editing by Cynthia Osterman)
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