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NGA, Others File Interchange Settlement Objections

NEW YORK — As expected, National Grocers Association and nine other named plaintiffs in an antitrust lawsuit against credit-card companies have filed their objections to the proposed settlement with the U.S. District Court here.

"The NGA Board of Directors from the outset made it crystal clear that NGA was not motivated by money damages, but reform of the collusive establishment of interchange fees and enforcement of anti-competitive rules by the credit card companies and banks that unfairly restrict merchants' freedom to operate," stated Peter J. Larkin, NGA president and chief executive officer, in a statement.

NGA said the 10 named plaintiffs were joined by more than 1,200 small businesses and other companies in urging Judge John Gleeson to deny preliminary approval to the settlement “on the grounds that it locks in the broken interchange system rather than imposing meaningful reforms to it.”

Visa, MasterCard and their card-issuing banks had proposed to pay about $7.25 billion to settle the suit, which has been pending for more than seven years. Merchants say the settlement would prevent them from taking further legal action related to the suit and would not introduce significant changes to the way interchange fees are assessed.

Read more: Card-Suit Settlement Irks NGA

NGA said it was joined in the litigation by three of its members — Coborn's Inc., D'Agostino Supermarkets, and Affiliated Foods Midwest — along with Jetro Holdings and Jetro Cash & Carry Enterprises, and five other national associations on behalf of their members: the National Association of Convenience Stores, National Community Pharmacists Association, National Cooperative Grocers Association, National Restaurant Association, and NATSO (travel plazas and truck stops).

Those plaintiffs have been joined by others opposing the settlement, including American Booksellers Association, National Association of College Stores, National Retail Federation, Retailer Industry Leaders Association, and more than 1,200 merchants.

Oral arguments in the proposed settlement are scheduled for Nov. 9.

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