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In perhaps a record for shortest litigation ever, the Department of Justice announced that it both filed a lawsuit and agreed to a settlement in the same day with six TV broadcasters, claiming they "engaged in unlawful agreements to share non-public competitively sensitive information with their broadcast television competitors."

What does that mean? Essentially that they conspired to fix ad prices. What does the proposed settlement mean? It would require those broadcasters to cooperate in the DOJ's ongoing investigation, as well as adopt "rigorous antitrust compliance and reporting measures" to make sure they don't cheat again. Here's a look.

Visa, Mastercard Swipe Fees Lawsuit Partly Settles

Visa and Mastercard have finally settled an antitrust class action lawsuit brought by merchants that has been in the judicial court system since 2005. The case consolidated about 40 class action lawsuits last year, bringing the caseload paperwork to a whopping 65 million pages. The proposed $6.2 billion settlement deal would be the largest class action settlement in an antitrust case. Needless to say, this is big news on many fronts.

When you first think about it, simply putting a price on an item in a store might not seem like "speech." But when it comes to credit card surcharges (where retailers pass swipe fees charged by credit card companies to consumers), the issue becomes a little more murky.

And the Supreme Court is trying to clear it up. After retailers sued over a New York law that makes credit card surcharges illegal, the Court ruled that the law "regulates speech," and therefore the statute might violate merchants' First Amendment rights. Here's a look at the decision.

PayPal to Settle $3.2M for Improper Account Lock Class Action

PayPal is designed to make transacting online simple and streamlined. You use your account to pay people and get paid and to make purchases from stores that accept the service.

But because PayPal does do business in a new and somewhat suspect sphere -- online banking and shopping -- it has adopted strict anti-fraud policies that anger users and lock them out of their accounts and their money. Moises Zepeda, who sued the company on behalf of a class of plaintiffs whose accounts were improperly locked for 6 months for security reasons, complained that users were not paid interest while money in their accounts was frozen. PayPal agreed to settle the suit for $3.2 million, reports Investor's Business Daily.

BofA Close to $17B Mortgage Settlement, Largest in U.S. History

Bank of America has reached a tentative $17 billion settlement deal with the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve allegations that it fraudulently marketed mortgage-backed securities.

The terms of the mortgage settlement were reached last week during a phone conversation between Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan and Attorney General Eric Holder, reports USA Today. If approved, the settlement would be the largest ever between the government and a financial institution in the ongoing string of disputes involving mortgage servicing and mortgage-backed securities.

What are the terms of the settlement and how does it compare to past settlements between the government and financial institutions?

SunTrust's $1B Mortgage-Abuse Settlement: What Will Consumers Get?

SunTrust Banks Inc. has agreed to pay nearly $1 billion in settlement funds to end a federal probe over mortgage abuses.

The titan mortgage servicer announced in October that it had set aside $1.2 billion to settle this probe, but it appears they will only have to part with $968 million, according to Reuters. SunTrust isn't admitting any liability as part of the settlement, but they will have to pay up.

How much of that settlement cheddar will consumers see?

JPMorgan's $13B Settlement: What Will Consumers Get?

The Justice Department and JPMorgan have reached a possible $13 billion settlement over civil charges that the bank sold bad mortgage loans to investors prior to the mortgage crisis.

According to Reuters, this record-setting deal won't release JPMorgan from criminal liability from some mortgages that were packaged into bonds and sold to investors. But it will go a long way toward reducing the financial institution's troubles with the federal government.

That's all well and good for JPMorgan, but what does this mean for consumers?

Supreme Court Ruling in Student Loan Case May Discourage Lawsuits

In a case involving a student loan collections dispute, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in favor of a debt collector, the ABA Journal reports.

This ruling, which awarded court costs to the debt collector, could potentially send a powerful message to the little guy: Don't sue your debt collector, no matter how much they allegedly harass you.

Consumers are supposedly protected under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The Act prohibits creditors and debt collectors from pursuing a debtor unfairly or using unfair tactics.

Capital One to Pay $210M in U.S. Consumer Agency's First Action

Capital One is not quite "No Hassle" according to federal charges that the credit card company violated consumer protection requirements.

Capital One will pay $210 million to settle charges raised by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The majority of that money will go to consumers but $60 million will be paid out in fines.

This if the CFPB's first enforcement action since the federal agency was created about a year ago. Its purpose is to protect consumers from financial threats, including hidden or excessive fees, reports The Washington Post.

Capital One's policies were problematic because of the way they deceived customers into spending more money.

A federal appeals court has declined to stay a lower court ruling requiring groups that finance election ads to reveal their secret donors.

A U.S. Court of Appeals panel voted 2-1 that political advocacy groups failed to provide sufficient evidence to grant the stay, the Los Angeles Times reports. The groups argued contributors needed to have their identities kept secret in order to protect them from retribution due to their political views.

The lawsuit was brought by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). He sought to overturn a Federal Election Commission regulation that allowed advocacy groups to keep their funders anonymous. So what effect will this latest ruling have on political ads?