June 11, 2007 – New York, Washington, D.C. LAWFUEL – The Law Firm Newswire – The firm recently achieved a significant trial victory for MasterCard International, Inc. in its challenge to a Visa U.S.A., Inc. by-law that prevented large Visa debit card issuing banks from switching from Visa to the MasterCard network. MasterCard’s action against Visa came in the form of a motion to enforce the Final Judgment entered in the Department of Justice’s antitrust enforcement case against Visa and MasterCard. In that underlying litigation, Southern District of New York Judge Barbara S. Jones ordered that Visa and MasterCard may not pass any rule or engage in any practice that would prohibit a bank from issuing debit or credit cards on a competing general purpose card network. Shortly after Visa’s $2 billion settlement of the Wal-Mart antitrust class action litigation in 2003, Visa passed its “Settlement Service Fee” by-law, which imposed a hefty penalty fee on Visa’s top 100 debit issuing banks if any of those banks switched their issuance to a competing network such as MasterCard.
In a decision handed down on June 7, Judge Jones found in MasterCard’s favor in every respect. The Court found that Visa’s by-law is a violation of the Final Judgment and ordered Visa not only to repeal the exclusionary by-law, but also to grant all banks subject to Visa’s by-law a right to terminate their debit issuance agreements if they desire to switch to MasterCard. The decision follows extensive proceedings over the past four years, including a trial before Special Master Paul Shechtman in late 2006 and post-trial briefing before the Special Master and Judge Jones through 2006.
Peter Thomas, Joe Tringali, Arman Oruc, Juan Arteaga, Andy Lacy, and Scott Bulcao represented MasterCard, with invaluable assistance from litigation assistants Bill van Opstal and Anne Alfano.