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Over the past several years, during his conference calls with analysts to review Discover Financial Services’ quarterly earnings, chief executive David W. Nelms occasionally took swipes at Visa Inc.’s efforts to maintain its dominant debit card market share in the wake of the Durbin Amendment, which severely undercut Visa’s Interlink PIN-debit network. For example, in response to an analyst’s question in December 2012 about why transaction growth at the Discover-owned Pulse PIN-debit network had slowed down slightly, Nelms, without mentioning Visa by name, referred to the “Goliath in the industry” and its alleged “hijack-transaction actions.”

On Tuesday, Discover, through Pulse, took its gripes against Visa to U.S. District Court in Houston. In a 93-page civil complaint, Pulse accused Visa of being a “long-time monopolist” in the debit market and of instituting programs since Congress passed the Durbin Amendment as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act to force more debit transactions to come Visa’s way, to the detriment of Pulse and other PIN-debit networks. The 10-count complaint alleges antitrust violations of the federal Sherman Act and of Texas law. Houston-based Pulse wants the court to put a freeze on Visa’s Fixed Acquirer Network Fee (FANF) price structure and its PIN-Authenticated Visa Debit (PAVD) program.