After nearly two decades battling in court, lead plaintiff Mitch Goldstone, CEO and owner of the small film scanning business Scan My Photos, has bested major banks and credit card companies Visa and Mastercard.
Goldstone and other plaintiffs have won a $5.54 billion settlement which is the largest private antitrust class-action settlement in United States history. The case claims that merchants paid excessive fees to accept payment via Visa and Mastercard credit and debit cards, and that Visa and Mastercard and their member banks violated antitrust laws.
The impacted class is vast, including millions of U.S. businesses that accepted Visa or Mastercard credit or debit cards between January 1, 2004, and January 25, 2019, and who did not previously opt-out. Class members can read the full details of the “payment card interchange fee settlement” and submit a claim on a dedicated website. Further, claim forms are being mailed to class members throughout the month.
“This is an historic antitrust class-action settlement that provides some relief for U.S. merchants after years of paying allegedly inflated Visa and Mastercard interchange fees,” says K. Craig Wildfang, of Robins Kaplan LLP, co-counsel on the litigation alongside Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP and Berger Montague PC.
“The case has been winding its way through the court system for nearly 20 years. Now we look forward to helping class members with the claims process and getting the benefits of the settlement into their hands,” adds Alexandra Bernay, partner at Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP.
The settlement follows a March 15, 2023 ruling by the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that unanimously upheld a district court order, approving the $5.54 billion settlement on behalf of U.S. merchants in the class action lawsuit.
“Remember the 2000 movie, Erin Brockovich? Well, this is my Erin Brockovich moment –18 years in the making,” Goldstone tells PetaPixel. “The risks of ScanMyPhotos.com suing the banks, Visa, and MasterCard were unimaginable, but my role as lead plaintiff worked!”
Goldstone’s legal journey against Visa and Mastercard started when his business “experienced the weight of exorbitant credit and debit card fees” and recognized the substantial impact these fees have on businessess and their operational expenses.
“This realization fueled my determination to advocate for change, sparking a long-standing social media campaign, years of meeting, regularly flying to New York City and Washington D.C. and attending court proceedings to serve as the prominent voice in the litigation — all aimed at raising awareness about this issue that affects every business,” Goldstone continues.
“This giant settlement offers substantial relief to larger businesses while also providing meaningful benefits to smaller enterprises. In light of recent challenges small businesses face, including the pandemic, supply chain disruptions, labor shortages, and inflation, every bit of support matters immensely,” Goldstone says.
Goldstone implores affected business owners to file a claim to “reclaim what is rightfully theirs.” Even if a company has gone out of business, they may still be eligible for relief. Further, the claim process has been designed to be straightforward enough for business owners to go through the process without any intermediary.
Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.