(CANDACE WEST / COPYRIGHT 2012)
Lawyers representing a proposed class of about 4,000 independent truck stops announced Tuesday that they’ve reached a $130 million settlement in their antitrust lawsuit against leading trucker fleet payment card company Comdata Inc., as well as three national truck-stop chains.
As part of the deal, the defendants, which include Comdata’s parent company, Ceridian LLC, have agreed to pay a total of $130 million in cash, with $100 million coming from Comdata and $10 million a piece from TravelCenters of America, Pilot Travel Centers and Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores Inc.
Plaintiffs co-lead counsel at Berger & Montague, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein announced the deal in a press release Tuesday, as did Comdata. The parties are set to file settlement papers Feb. 28 in the litigation that’s pending before U.S. District Judge James Knoll Gardner in Allentown, Pa.
Comdata is represented in the case by counsel from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. Ceridian is represented by Reed Smith while TravelCenters of America tapped Ropes & Gray and Ballard Spahr. Pilot Travel Centers turned to Telos Ventures Group and Clark Hill Thorp Reed and Love’s was advised by Crowe & Dunlevy and Harkins Cunningham.
The lawsuit was originally filed in 2007 alleging antitrust violations by Comdata, whose cards allow trucking fleets to track things such as expenses, fuel use and driver location through their payment cards. In their third amended complaint filed in 2011, the plaintiffs claimed that Comdata implemented a two-tier pricing system that increased transaction fees at independent truck stops while charging chain truck-stops lower fees, in part to keep those chains from developing their own fleet payment cards. Plaintiffs maintain the scheme preserved Comdata’s monopoly power in the trucker fleet card market, and allowed Comdata to impose artificially inflated fees on independent truck stops.
Quinn Emanuel’s Stephen Neuwirth told Legal affiliate The Am Law Litigation Daily on Wednesday that the settlement also includes a legally binding commitment from Comdata to change certain allegedly anti-competitive provisions in its merchant agreements, something that he said will be even more valuable to the class members than the cash payment. The plaintiffs’ attorney fees request has not yet been determined, he said.
In a statement, Comdata CEO Stuart Harvey Jr. said the company continues to believe the lawsuit lacks merit, but decided to settle “so that we can continue to focus our full attention on strengthening and growing our relationships with our merchant and fleet customers.”
Ross Todd is a reporter for The American Lawyer, a Legal affiliate based in New York. This article first appeared in The Am Law Litigation Daily at www.americanlawyer.com. •