Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. lost their bid to dismiss more than 30 lawsuits by retailers seeking potentially billions of dollars in damages over fees for processing transactions.

Merchants including Target Corp. and Macy's Inc. pursued their cases after dropping out of an earlier $5.7 billion settlement over the charges known as swipe fees. On Friday, a federal judge in New York refused to throw out those lawsuits. He also rejected Visa's request to dismiss a similar lawsuit filed by Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

U.S. District Judge John Gleeson said his decision was "in large part driven by the requirement that I accept all well-pleaded factual allegations as true" because the cases were in the early stages of litigation. It isn't a ruling on the merits of the complaints.

Gleeson in December approved the card companies' settlement with merchants nationwide following years of antitrust litigation.

Dozens of large retailers appealed the approval of the accord. Many also dropped out of the deal and filed their own lawsuits, contending it wasn't enough compensation for the hundreds of billions of dollars in fees paid.

Bloomberg News