Courtesy of the complicated mess that is Sovereign Bank v. BJ’s Wholesale Club, Inc., 533 F.3d 162 (3d Cir. 2008), in which credit card "Issuers" sued credit card "Acquirers" and "Merchants" (Acquirers are the companies that process transactions for the Merchants) after a bunch of credit card numbers were stolen from the Merchant.
The big issue is: are Issuers intended beneficiaries of the Merchant and Acquirer’s agreement with the Visa network, which includes a number of anti-fraud regulations that the Merchant and Acquirer allegedly didn’t follow?
Historically, under Pennsylvania law, "in order for a third party beneficiary to have standing to recover on a contract, both contracting parties must have expressed an intention that the third-party be a beneficiary, and that intention must have affirmatively appeared in the contract itself." Scarpitti v. Weborg, 530 Pa. 366, 609 A.2d 147, 149 (Pa. 1992) (citation omitted). Sovereign appropriately concedes that it is not an express third-party beneficiary of the Visa-Fifth Third Member Agreement. However, in Scarpitti, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court adopted § 302 of the Restatement (Second) of Contracts. Id. That provision allows an "intended beneficiary" to recover for breach of contract even though the actual parties to the contract did not express an intent to benefit the third party. Section 302 provides as follows:
Intended and Incidental Beneficiaries
(1) Unless otherwise agreed between promisor and promisee, a beneficiary of a promise is an intended beneficiary if recognition of a right to performance in the beneficiary is appropriate to effectuate the intentions of the parties and either
(a) the performance of the promise will satisfy an obligation of the promisee to pay money to the beneficiary; or
(b) the circumstances indicate that the promisee intends to give the beneficiary the benefit of the promised performance.
(2) An incidental beneficiary is a beneficiary who is not an intended beneficiary.
Got all that? Summary judgment reversed, based upon a memorandum and deposition testimony indicating that the regulations were for the benefit of all the members, as discussed in the next post.
Update: for some reason, movable type ate most of my post, which has been corrected.