A group of 15 big retailers that include Macy's Inc. and Target Corp. on Thursday sued credit card companies Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc., breaking away from a proposed $7.2 billion settlement reached last year over fees to process credit card transactions, Reuters reported.

 

Among other plaintiffs in Thursday's lawsuit are J.C. Penney Co. Inc., Kohl's Corp. and TJX Cos., as well as Staples Inc., Office Depot Inc. and OfficeMax Inc. The lawsuit seeks compensatory and triple damages, as well as other remedies.

 

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, came ahead of a May 28 deadline for the millions of merchants affected by the settlement to decide whether to forgo receiving damages under the pact and pursue their own legal action.

 

By opting out of the settlement, the retailers can pursue separate litigation seeking damages over allegations of past antitrust violations. However, merchants would still be bound by other injunctive relief if the settlement goes forward, including changes to Visa and MasterCard's swipe-fee rules.

 

Trish Wexler, a spokeswoman for the Electronic Payments Coalition, said the lawsuit didn't come as a surprise and was the next natural step for retailers opting out of the settlement, the Associated Press reported.

 

Retailers who do not opt out by the Tuesday deadline will automatically be considered to have accepted the settlement.