Four separate antitrust class actions filed against Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. in October over an alleged price-fixing scheme are likely to move forward as one case.
U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson issued a minute order yesterday informing all parties that she intended to consolidate the cases because they involved nearly identical allegations of antitrust violations under the federal Sherman Act. She gave attorneys until Dec. 2 to file any objection.
A group of independent ATM operators first filed a lawsuit against Visa and MasterCard in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Oct. 12, led by the National ATM Council, a Florida-based trade association. Three other lawsuits were filed in the same court over the next two weeks on behalf of ATM users.
Although the cases involve similar allegations, they don’t all list the same named defendants, besides Visa and MasterCard. One of the lawsuits, filed on behalf of ATM user Justin Genese (PDF), also names several banks and their affiliated entities as defendants as well, including Bank of America N.A., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo Bank N.A.
In all of the lawsuits, Visa and MasterCard are accused of conspiring with banks to restrict ATM operators from setting their own fees, making it impossible for operators to charge more competitive rates for different types of ATM transactions.
None of the defendants have filed a response to the complaints in any of the cases.