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IN RE CURRENCY CONVERSION FEE ANTITRUST LITIGATION

United States District Court, S.D. New York


April 21, 2004.

IN RE CURRENCY CONVERSION FEE ANTITRUST LITIGATION

The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM PAULEY, District Judge

ORDER

This consolidated class action alleges violations of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1 et seq., and the Truth in Lending Act ("TILA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1601 et seq., arising out of an alleged price-fixing conspiracy by and among Visa and Mastercard and their member banks with respect to currency conversion fees.*fn1 Presently before this Court are plaintiffs' and defendants' motions to compel compliance with their respective subpoenas directed to non-party American Express Company ("American Express"). For the reasons set forth below, plaintiffs' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

  DISCUSSION

  American Express' position that compliance with both plaintiffs' and defendants' subpoenas is unduly burdensome, would compromise trade secrets, and yield irrelevant information is without merit. First, to argue that the production of documents concerning American Express' foreign currency conversion pricing and practices is irrelevant to an antitrust action borders on the frivolous. This Court gives no credence to American Express' contention that foreign currency conversion information from the third player in a three-player market is irrelevant to an antitrust action focusing on foreign currency conversion fees. Further, this Court is not bound by the California state court's discovery limitations in Schwarcz v. Visa International Corp., an action this Court notes is much more limited in scope and does not contain an antitrust component.

  Second, American Express' concern that production of the subpoenaed documents would compromise its trade secrets and other confidential information is obviated by the presence of the confidentiality agreement and protective order in this action. Indeed, the confidentiality agreement was amended in consultation with American Express, and contains strong protections for American Express documents.

  Finally, American Express' argument that the production called for by the parties' respective subpoenas would be unduly burdensome is a concern to which this Court is sympathetic. However, American Express is a sophisticated company with vast experience in litigation of all types, and can certainly undertake this production with a minimum of disruption to its normal practices. Accordingly, the parties' motions to compel the production of documents by American Express are granted. The parties are directed to meet and confer concerning streamlining the document requests. If the parties are unable to agree on the parameters of production, they are directed to send a letter to this Court by April 30, 2004, and this Court will refer the issue to the magistrate judge for the limited purpose of tailoring the specific requests in each subpoena to lessen the burden on American Express and ensure that the parties receive the relevant market and pricing information in accord with this Order. Finally, if American Express claims that it does not have any documents responsive to a particular request, it is ordered to furnish the parties with an affidavit to that effect.

  SO ORDERED.


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