When Enough is Never Enough

Lawyers who represented millions of retailers in their class action lawsuit against Visa and MasterCard on debit card processing costs are now seeking among the highest legal fees ever for nailing down $3 billion in combined settlements.

The suit was originally filed by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Sears, Roebuck and Co. in 1996, charging that the credit card associations used market power to force higher debit card fees on retailers. The lawsuit then mushroomed to include millions of retailers when it was finally settled at the end of April, 2003.

Now the lawyers for representing the retailers are asking for 18 percent of the settlements, a whopping $550 million in legal fees, for working on the case and negotiating the settlement, plus expenses.

The request for fees was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District Court of New York in Brooklyn.

Source: Reuters, “Retailers’ Lawyers Want $550 Million in Fees,” Aug. 19, 2003.