Thursday, February 21, 2013
A federal judge in the District of Columbia on Feb. 13, 2013, dismissed actions filed by the National ATM Council Inc. and two other groups of plaintiffs alleging antitrust actions on the part of Visa Inc. and MasterCard Worldwide. The court ruled the plaintiffs were not able to prove a conspiracy on the part of the card companies.
"The court has not concluded that plaintiffs could never make factual allegations to support their claims; it simply rules that plaintiffs have not done so here," Judge Amy Berman Jackson said in her ruling.
The suits, reported in "NAC sues MasterCard, Visa alleging antitrust," The Green Sheet, Breaking News online, Oct. 14, 2011, alleged card company network rules prevent ATM owners from offering lower prices for transactions on PIN-debit networks not affiliated with MasterCard or Visa. The operators claimed the rules unfairly limited their earnings and are a violation of the restraint of trade provision of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
A dozen ATM operators joined in the NAC suit, claiming the uniform agreement imposed on them by the card companies fixes prices for ATM services, suppresses competition among ATM networks and prevents operators from setting lower prices for their services.
Judge Jackson stated in her ruling, "The complaints bristle with indignation, but when one strips away the conclusory assertions and the interferences proffered without factual support, there is very little left to consider." The judge found the plaintiffs offered insufficient facts to support the allegation they were harmed and the plaintiffs did not have sufficient facts to support the claim of a conspiracy between the card companies to fix prices.
"Notably absent from each of the complaints are facts showing the existence of an agreement, the essential element of any conspiracy," the judge said when dismissing the suits.
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