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$30-Million Suit Names B of A, 2 Credit Firms

October 26, 1985|JANE APPLEGATE | Times Staff Writer

A Huntington Beach businessman is seeking $30 million in damages from Bank of America, Visa International Service Assn. and Mastercard International Inc. in an antitrust lawsuit filed Friday.

In his suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Michael Holleran alleges that Bank of America, Visa and Mastercard were involved in "efforts to completely wreck and destroy the business and operations" of his company, International Credit Systems Inc. The company, which offers a variety of travel and credit card services that compete with a similar Bank of America program, is still in business.

In an unrelated matter, Holleran's company is being sued by the state for allegedly giving misleading information to potential customers during a recent sales drive.

State's Claims

The state attorney general's office filed suit against ICS in Los Angeles Superior Court in August, alleging that the company misled customers about "free" vacations to Hawaii. Holleran claimed that much of the information on which the state based its suit is false and said he has provided corrected information in an effort to win dismissal of the suit, which still is pending. Holleran said he has met with state attorneys to ask them to dismiss it. State officials could not be reached for comment Friday.

Holleran, who calls his suit against the giant bank and the two major credit card companies a "David versus Goliath case," said Friday that his problems with B of A's Pasadena Bankcard Center arose last summer, when ICS launched a major national telephone marketing campaign.

The suit alleges that employees of the Pasadena center froze ICS bank accounts, refused to accept deposits of Visa and Mastercard vouchers, and provided "false information detracting from ICS' reputation and integrity," by calling the ICS program a "scam" and a "sham."

Cites Competition Motive

Holleran, 30, said his troubles with B of A came because his company's Express Card program competes directly with B of A's "ValueAmerica" consumer and travel services program.

A Bank of America spokesman said Friday that many companies offer services that compete with "ValueAmerica." That program, which debuted in February, offers a mail-order buying service, credit card registration services, a worldwide travel service with hotel discounts, a national automobile club and legal and insurance services.

The bank spokesman declined to comment on Holleran's lawsuit until the bank's attorneys have reviewed it, and officials of San Francisco-based Visa and New York-based Mastercard could not be reached for comment Friday.

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