PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 21, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Co-Lead Counsel for a proposed class of over 4,000 independent truck stops and other retail fueling merchants announce settlements of an antitrust lawsuit against Comdata Inc., the leading trucker fleet payment card issuer, and three national truck stop chains for a combined amount of $130 million plus valuable prospective relief in the form of enforceable changes to certain of Comdata's allegedly anticompetitive business practices. This class action has been pending before the Hon. James Knoll Gardner in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania since 2007.
Comdata operates a payment card network used by over-the-road truckers and fleets to purchase fuel and other items at truck stops and other retail fueling merchants. The lawsuit alleged that Comdata imposed anticompetitive provisions in its agreements with class members that artificially inflated the fees these truck stops and other retail fueling merchants paid when accepting the card for payment. The lawsuit also challenged allegedly anticompetitive arrangements among Comdata, its parent company Ceridian LLC, and three national truck stop chains: defendants TravelCenters of America LLC and its wholly owned subsidiaries, Pilot Travel Centers LLC and its predecessor Pilot Corporation, and Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores, Inc. Plaintiffs alleged that Comdata, with the assistance of its parent, Ceridian, engaged in anticompetitive behavior with the truck stop chains in which the chains agreed not to compete with Comdata in exchange for Comdata providing the chains with a transaction fee advantage versus their smaller, independent truck stop competitors. Plaintiffs alleged that this conduct insulated Comdata from competition, enhanced its market power, and led to independent truck stops' paying artificially inflated transaction fees. Defendants have denied these allegations.
These settlements would resolve all claims of the named Plaintiffs and the proposed class in exchange for aggregate payments from all defendants totaling $130 million plus a legally binding commitment from Comdata for prospective relief in the form of changes to certain allegedly anticompetitive contractual provisions in its merchant agreements. Plaintiffs and Co-Lead Class Counsel believe that this relief will promote competition among payment cards used by over-the-road fleets and truckers and lead to lower merchant fees for the independent truck stops.
"The settlements with the Defendants commit them to pay $130,000,000 for the benefit of over 4,000 independent merchants across the country, and will provide significant changes to Comdata's merchant agreements that we believe will help level the economic playing field for the independents," said Eric L. Cramer, a managing shareholder at Berger & Montague, P.C., who is one of the Co-Lead Class Counsel. Mr. Cramer added, "The total cash recovery, together with the competition-enhancing prospective relief, will bring substantial value to the class members. While we were confident in our ability to survive summary judgment, win at trial, and successfully defend that verdict on appeal, given that the settlements provide immediate, certain, and significant monetary compensation for past harms and real prospective relief to ameliorate future ones, this resolution is clearly in the best interests of our clients and the proposed class."
Before the settlements can become final, the parties must enter into final definitive settlement agreements, notify the class members of the details of the settlements as well as of Plaintiffs' plan for fairly and efficiently allocating the settlement funds amongst the class members. The settlements also require approval from the Court. The settlement approval process is expected to take several months. Further details concerning the settlements will become available in the coming weeks once the definitive settlement agreements have been completed and presented to the Court for preliminary approval.
Plaintiffs' Co-Lead Class Counsel are Mr. Cramer and Andrew Curley of Berger & Montague, P.C., Stephen Neuwirth, Dale Oliver, and Jeffrey Shandel of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, and Eric Fastiff and Dean Harvey of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP. The named Plaintiffs and proposed Class representatives are Marchbanks Truck Service, Inc. d/b/a Bear Mountain Travel Stop, Gerald F. Krachey d/b/a Krachey's BP South, and Walt Whitman Truck Stop, Inc.
SOURCE Berger & Montague, P.C.