Visa and Mastercard to pay $197M to settle ATM fee lawsuit

Visa and Mastercard have agreed to pay $197 million to settle a class action lawsuit brought by millions of consumers accusing the financial payment companies of artificially inflating cash access fees.

The plaintiffs' lawyers revealed the proposed settlement on Wednesday in a filing in a Washington DC federal court. The settlement involves consumers who withdrew cash from bank-operated ATMs since 2007.

Two other related class actions – one from consumers who used non-bank ATMs and a third from businesses that own independent ATMs – are pending in the D.C. federal court.
The proposed deal is subject to court approval. The defendants have all denied any wrongdoing.

Visa will pay $104.6 million in the accord, and Mastercard will pay $92.8 million, according to the settlement papers. The bank defendants had earlier settled claims for $66 million.
Visa and Mastercard are yet to comment on the settlements.

The plaintiffs' attorneys stated that the settlement will "deliver immediate and assured relief."
The plaintiffs in the three cases alleged that Visa and Mastercard's ATM network rules caused them to pay artificially higher amounts for access fees. Collectively, they were seeking damages of more than $9 billion.
The resolution comes after the US Supreme Court in April turned down an appeal from Visa and Mastercard challenging a lower court judge's ruling allowing the groups of plaintiffs to band together to sue as class actions.

Visa and Mastercard had argued that the judge failed to conduct a "rigorous analysis" before certifying the class-actions.

The proposed settlement class was estimated to have at least 175 million members.
Consumers will have a chance to object to the terms of the settlement, including the amount of the fund and any legal fees that are awarded.

Visa and Mastercard are also defendants in a long-running legal proceeding in a Brooklyn federal court over claims that they overcharged merchants and others in transactions involving debit and credit cards.

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