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Twins enter credit card swipe dispute after opting out of class-action dea

The battle of the merchants and the Minnesota Twins are now at the sixth to seventh inning in a battle against Visa and MasterCard over high transaction fees.

The teams are now amongst the two latest and dominant businesses in the credit card networks. They are accusing them of breaking anti-trust laws by fixing bloated fees that retailers have to pay when accepting their customers’ credit cards.

Each swipe fees amount to around 2 percent a purchase and were the focus of a running class action antitrust fight which was between the retailers, card networks, and card-issuing banks.  In 2012, the lawsuit settled for a record of 7.25 billion. The federal judge ultimately approved 5.7 billion after thousands dissatisfied retailers opted out of the damages portion of the deal.

On February 7th, a lawsuit was filed in U.S District Court in Brooklyn by the Twins including Granite City Food & Brewery and JB Hudson Jewelers part of a local group of opt-outs. The complaint however, doesn’t say how much the companies think they are owed.

Kevin Smith, Twins spokesman,characterized the lawsuit as something of a technicality “To protect our interests.”  He quoted “Once we opted out, the legal system pushed the burden on us to move forward with obtaining a fair result,” “We’ll see what happens,” Smith said.

The Minneapolis antitrust lawyer representing the group, Vincent Esades, said that the companies are basically making the same case against Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. as the original antitrust class lawsuit.

The lawyer Esades estimated that “hundreds” of these cases have been filed in the wake of the settlement.  However, he feels confident that the group will receive more in damages on their behalf than they would as part of the settlement.

K. Craig Wildfang is the Minneapolis antitrust lawyer who quarterbacked the historic interchange settlement for retailers. He stated that the record on what opt-outs have been awarded in damages on their own, after opting out of class-action antitrust settlements were mixed.  “They should plan on litigating their claims over the next several years,”Wildfang said.

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