American Express has been a busy litigant lately. As we noted last week, on January 30 the credit card company suffered a significant loss at the Second Circuit in a class action filed by merchants. But Am Ex rebounded last Friday with a victory in California in another class action, this one filed by some of its cardholders. The ruling severely weakens a nationwide case against the credit card company.

On February 6, Alameda superior court judge George Hernandez, Jr., issued a decision concluding that a contract between Am Ex and cardholders who enrolled in travel insurance programs was not ambiguous. The programs at issue provided insurance to enrollees when they bought an airline ticket with an American Express card. Plaintiffs had alleged (among other things) that Am Ex breached its contract with them when the credit card company charged a premium even for tickets that were later cancelled or were purchased for passengers not covered under the insurance program. The class action asserted that premiums charged in those instances should have been automatically refunded. Am Ex countered that the contract clearly established a process by which card members could obtain refunds of those charges.

Judge Hernandez’s ruling follows a November bench trial on the breach of contract claim. The judge is now hearing plaintiffs’ claims that the terms of the contract are unconscionable and violate New York and California consumer protection laws.

Boies, Schiller & Flexner partners David Shapiro and Fred Norton represent Am Ex. Among the lawyers for the plaintiffs are Russell Drake of Whatley, Drake & Kallas and Max Folkenflik of Folkenflik & McGerity.