Judge: Anti-Settlement Groups Dragging Feet on Changing Website

May 6, 2013

Less than a month after a federal judge said opponents of a multi-billion dollar settlement between card networks and merchants over interchange were disseminating “bad information” on their Websites, the court suggested the groups were at it again. U.S. District Judge John Gleeson said at least one of the sites— MerchantsObject.com —has continued to “obfuscate” key points of the settlement proposal. He did not, however, hold the groups responsible for the site in contempt of court on Friday, saying he preferred to “give them the benefit of the doubt.” Gleeson said he expects the groups will make the proper adjustments on the site because the threat of a contempt ruling is “a powerful incentive for the objectors to be sure they’re not basing their argument on ground that’s not so firm.”

Subsequent to Judge Gleeson’s original decision in mid-April, MerchantsObject.com added a disclaimer at the top of the site’s home page that links users to the official, court-approved information source but still warned merchants to “evaluate anything they tell you critically.” After the latest courtroom skirmish, the disclaimer has been changed, removing that language and explicitly stating the judge was “concerned that some class members who visited this site may not have fully understood their rights with regard to the proposed settlement and therefore may have made decisions without complete information.”

Merchants that object to the settlement, as many have , are within their rights to opt out. The deadline to opt out or object to the settlement is May 28. A hearing to decide if the settlement receives final approval is scheduled for Sept. 12, 2013 in Brooklyn, N.Y. The court-approved site providing information about the settlement can be found at https://www.paymentcardsettlement.com/en .