The six-year old fight between retailers and VISA/MasterCard over debit cards will finally be coming to a head next year as it heads into the courtroom. The lead counsel of the plaintiffs in the “Wal-Mart Debit Card Lawsuit” announced last week they are mailing more than 7.5 million notices to the merchants who are class members in the multi-billion dollar antitrust lawsuit. New York City-based Constantine & Partners say the certified class consists of all persons and business entities that have accepted VISA and/or MasterCard credit cards and therefore have been required to accept VISA and/or MasterCard offline signature debit transactions from October 25, 1992 to the present. The law firm says it is seeking damages to compensate merchants for being forced to accept more than $1 trillion in “slow, fraud-prone, inferior offline signature debit transactions at anticompetitively high and fixed prices during the last decade.” The lawsuit challenges VISA and MasterCard’s enforcement of their “Honor All Cards” rule. If the merchants prevail, VISA and MasterCard will face significant class damages of approximately $13-$15 billion, which could be tripled under antitrust laws. The trial is scheduled to begin April 28, 2003, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York before Judge John Gleeson.