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Judge calls out banking industry for choosing Texas court to challenge credit card fee caps—’Venue is not a continental breakfast’

A Texas federal judge on Thursday accused the major banking industry groups and U.S. Chamber of Commerce of venue shopping in their lawsuit against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a major win for the federal regulator.

The bureau had argued the only reason banks filed their lawsuit in Texas was to increase their chance of a favorable ruling. Judge Mark Pittman ruled that the lawsuit should be transferred to Washington, where the banking lobby has armies of lawyers able to handle this case.

“Venue is not a continental breakfast; you cannot pick and choose on a Plaintiff’s whim where and how a lawsuit is filed,” Pittman wrote.

The lawsuit deals with the CFPB’s new regulations over credit card late fees, where the average late fee of a customer would be capped at $8, down from the average late fee of $32. The major banking groups had filed their lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Texas. Industry and interest groups have often filed lawsuits against the Biden administration there, due to its historically conservative judges.

The banks have been pushing hard to stop the late fee rule, due to the potential billions the banks would lose in revenue. The bureau estimated when it issued the proposal that banks brought in roughly $14 billion in credit card late fees a year.

In his ruling, Pittman found little reason why the major industry groups — the American Bankers Association, Consumer Bankers Association, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, among others — had filed their lawsuit there. The only banking industry connection to the district was the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, which only recently acquired a major bank as a member.

The CFPB had argued that Texas was an irrelevant place to file a banking industry regulation lawsuit, saying that Washington, with its location closer to regulators and expertise in industry regulation law, was more appropriate.

Pittman agreed with the Biden administration.

“In fact, as far as this Court can discern, not one of the banks or credit card companies directly affected by the future (CFPB regulations) is located in the Fort Worth Division,” he said.

The American Bankers Association and the Consumer Bankers Association did not immediately return a request for comment.

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