UPDATE 1-U.S. court rules for banks in ATM antitrust suit
By Dan Levine
SAN FRANCISCO, July 12 (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court ruled that several banks, including JP Morgan Chase & Co , Wells Fargo & Co and Bank of America Corp do not have to face a civil antitrust lawsuit over fees charged when customers withdraw money from a different bank's ATM.
The opinion on Thursday came from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and it affirmed a lower court's ruling. Attorneys for the plaintiffs, who are ATM card holders, could not immediately be reached for comment, nor could representatives for JP Morgan, Wells Fargo or BofA.
Plaintiffs sued several banks in 2004 and sought class action status, alleging the banks colluded to fix an ATM network interchange fee, which is then passed on to consumers as part of the foreign ATM fee. They sought damages dating back to 2000.
A federal judge in San Francisco entered a judgment in favor of the banks before trial, saying the plaintiffs did not have standing to pursue the case. On Thursday, the 9th Circuit agreed.
"Plaintiffs concede that they have never directly paid interchange fees," wrote Judge N.R. Smith for a unanimous three-judge panel.
Under federal antitrust laws, such indirect purchasers cannot bring the lawsuit, he wrote.
The case in the 9th Circuit is In re: ATM Fee Antitrust Litigation, 10-17354.
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