States Press AmEx Case -- WSJ

By AnnaMaria Andriotis Features Dow Jones Newswires

Attorneys general from 11 states filed a petition Friday afternoon asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case against American Express Co., which centers on whether the card company can ban merchants from encouraging consumers to use cards that run on competing networks, like Visa and Mastercard.

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Also Friday, the Justice Department said it won't ask the Supreme Court to review its antitrust case against AmEx. "We believe the DOJ's decision not to proceed sends a strong signal that this seven-year litigation should come to an end," an AmEx spokesman said in a statement.

Ohio is the lead state in the 48-page states' petition and is joined by Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Rhode Island, Utah and Vermont

AmEx card policy says merchants that choose to accept AmEx cards can't steer consumers into using cards on other networks.

The states along with the U.S. Justice Department were plaintiffs in this case against AmEx when a federal appeals court ruled in favor of AmEx last September. The appeals court reversed a lower-court ruling that said AmEx violated antitrust rules because it didn't allow stores that accept its cards to encourage shoppers to use cheaper cards. The costs at issue are the fees merchants pay the card company when people use its cards to shop.

AmEx has said in financial filings that losing this case could have a material adverse effect on its business.

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The AmEx statement said the company "will continue to vigorously defend" the appeals court ruling, adding that the "decision protects a consumer's right to choose how they pay, prevents our card members from being discriminated against and promotes competition in the payments industry."

Write to AnnaMaria Andriotis at annamaria.andriotis@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 05, 2017 02:47 ET (06:47 GMT)