The worst credit card data breach in history is a federal case no more.
A federal judge overseeing the TJX cases in effect fired himself as TJX judge on Tuesday, and ordered the case out of federal court and into Massachusetts state court.
U.S. District Court Judge William Young also praised Visa as a "hero" because it conducted its own investigation and worked out a settlement with a class of plaintiffs.
"I find this very significant, [that] they've worked out a settlement with an opt-in class. Opt-in classes are very desirable," the judge said from the bench.
The judge was referring to an agreement that Visa worked out with TJX where TJX would directly pay some of the plaintiffs' banks.
But Young also lamented the fact that the parties were able to resolve their dispute in a satisfactory manner in large part because they are equally huge entities with enormous resources.
To read about the early holiday gift that TJX received, click here.
"The tragedy is that we haven't been able to import anything close to the Visa system in our alternative dispute resolution mechanisms beyond those situations where the parties are economically more or less equal. Instead, we have large entities with economic power imposing on consumers, arbitration and other forms of second-class justice, with the barest nod to any real negotiation," the judge said.
Young promised to issue the order sending the TJX case to state court within a week.
This became a forgone conclusion once the judge ruled that the case shouldn't be considered a class-action.
The move will mean a different set of rules for the few financial entities that decide to pursue the case anew.
There's still a slight chance of the case returning to federal court, as attorneys for some of the banks suing TJX have said they would appeal the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals. But unless Young is overturned by that appellate panel, the federal aspect of the TJX case appears to be over.
Retail Center Editor Evan Schuman can be reached at [email protected]
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