Fuel card provider Comdata Inc. and three major truck-stop chains have agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging anticompetitive practices that resulted in higher processing fees for smaller truck stop businesses.
Comdata will pay $100 million, while TravelCenters of America, Pilot Travel Centers and Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores Inc. will each pay $10 million, various parties said in Jan. 21 statements. The settlement must still be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
“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,” Eric Cramer, a co-lead counsel for the class of independent truck stops, said in a statement.
In a lawsuit filed in 2007, the plaintiffs alleged that Comdata put anticompetitive provisions in its merchant agreements that artificially increased the fees truck stops paid to Comdata to accept payments. They also accused the three truck-stop chains of agreeing not to compete with Comdata, which is also anticompetitive, said Berger & Montague, Cramer’s law firm.
“We are very pleased to have reached an agreement that directly addresses merchant issues while continuing to emphasize and ensure fair treatment at the point of sale for fleets that carry the Comdata Card,” Stuart Harvey Jr., chairman and CEO of Comdata, said in a statement, adding that Comdata believes that the claims lack merit.
TravelCenters said it agreed to the settlement to end the “expense and distraction” of the lawsuit.