In possibly the largest civil case pending in the United States, retailers are suing the banking industry on antitrust grounds and are seeking damages of $8.1 billion, with possible treble damages of $24.3 billion.

The plaintiffs, including Wal-Mart, Sears and Safeway, are seeking class certification. If granted, it will pit between 3.5 million and 4 million retailers against the 6,000 banks that back Visa and MasterCard.

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