Comdata Settles Antitrust Suit with Independent Truck Stops

, The Litigation Daily

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Lawyers representing a proposed class of about 4,000 independent truck stops announced Tuesday that they've reach a 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 LLC, Pilot Travel Centers LLC 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 on Feb. 28 in the underlying case 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 & Dunleavy 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 us Wednesday that the settlement also includes a legally binding commitment from Comdata to change certain allegedly anticompetitive provisions in its merchant agreements, something that he says will be even more valuable to the class members than the cash payment. The plaintiffs' attorneys fee 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.”

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