U.S. Judge: DOJ Merchant Antitrust Case Against Amex May Proceed

This story was updated at 9:40 EDT on May 8.

A federal judge on May 7, ruled that an antitrust lawsuit brought by the Justice Department and several states challenging merchant rules imposed by American Express Co. may proceed to trial.

Filed in 2010, the lawsuit alleges Amex’s rules prevent merchants from offering consumers discounts and incentives to use less-expensive forms of payment. The Justice Department also had sued Visa and MasterCard, and both quickly settled.

In a statement, Amex noted that the court ruled that it would have to hear all the evidence at trial before making a decision in this case.  "American Express continues to believe that it has strong defenses to the DOJ lawsuit and will defend the case vigorously," the company said.

Amex traditionally has said merchants may pay more to accept its cards, but they also benefit from the card brands’ relatively wealthy cardholders, who generally spend more and buy more often than other cardholders.

And while Amex also contends it lacks market power to influence merchants, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis of Brooklyn said the government wasn’t required to prove market power to make a successful antitrust claim.

In separate cases against Amex, the U.S. Supreme Court last June blocked a merchant class-action suit that alleged Amex used its dominant position to “compel” merchants to accept its payment cards. The court, in a 5-3 decision, ruled that merchants who brought that suit must arbitrate their claims.

Amex in December also agreed to settle two outstanding merchant class-action claims challenging the company’s card-acceptance agreements.

"What's Hot" is aggregated content. claims no responsibility for the accuracy of the content published by the original source.




The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.

1 Comment