Magazine article American Banker

Accord Urged in Merchant Suit

Magazine article American Banker

Accord Urged in Merchant Suit

Article excerpt

The judge in the consolidated merchant suit against Visa U.S.A., MasterCard Inc., and several top card issuers urged both sides to consider settling.

"At some point you want to raise settlement," Judge James Orenstein of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York said at the end of a hearing Tuesday. "I think it may be too early for that, ... but think about it."

Lawyers on both sides said after the hearing that they appreciated the suggestion but thought a settlement was unlikely anytime soon, because of the complexity and enormity of the issues.

Judge Orenstein "realizes it's going to be hard and arduous," said Craig Wildfang of Robbins Kaplan Miller & Ciresi LLP, the lead attorney for the merchants. "Let's be realistic. I don't think settlement is in the near term."

Another attorney for the plaintiffs, Merrill G. Davidoff of Berger & Montague PC, said settling the case "depends on the attitude of the defendants."

The merchants want compensation for damages incurred from interchange, as well as a different method for setting it in the future, he said. They also want a lower rate.

The lead defense attorney, Robert Vizas of Arnold & Porter LLP of San Francisco, who represents Visa, said it is "premature to say" if the time has arrived for the sides to think of a settlement.

Another attorney for the defense, Peter E. Greene of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in New York, who represents JPMorgan & Chase Co., said Judge Orenstein is "doing what judges should be doing" by recommending a settlement. …

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