A spate of litigious activities against payment card pricing models underscores deepening hostilities among regulatory agencies, retailers and payment card brands. In 2014, the United States Department of Justice and 17 state attorneys general successfully challenged American Express Co.'s pricing and acceptance policies. The lawsuit accused AmEx of setting prices too high and prohibiting enrolled merchants from encouraging AmEx cardholders to use other, less expensive forms of payment at the POS.
A judge in the Eastern District Court of New York ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in February 2015, following a seven-week trial. Plaintiffs included Arizona, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Vermont. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder praised the decision, setting the stage for further state-level actions against the company's alleged illegal fee structure.