updated 6/9/2008 9:13:26 PM ET 2008-06-10T01:13:26

Discover Financial Services is seeking $6 billion in damages in a 2004 lawsuit against Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. over anti-competitive rules that Discover claims limited its growth, according to documents unsealed Monday.

A footnote in a court filing among dozens of documents unsealed Monday indicated Discover is seeking about $6 billion, before damages are potentially tripled, under one damage theory in the case.

Under an alternative theory in the case, revolving around failed discussions between Citigroup Inc.'s Citibank unit and Discover in 1997 and in 1998 over possibly creating a joint payment-card network, the credit card company is seeking $3 billion in damages, according to court filings.

Discover, formerly a unit of Morgan Stanley, sued Visa and MasterCard in 2004, seeking damages for rules imposed by the credit-card giants that allegedly precluded their member banks from issuing credit and debit cards over the Discover network.

The lawsuit was filed shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a lower court ruling that forced Visa and MasterCard to allow their member banks to issue credit cards on rival networks.

Representatives from Visa and MasterCard didn't immediately return phone calls seeking comment late Monday.

MasterCard has previously said it believes Discover's claims are without merit.

In a statement posted on its Website about the litigation, MasterCard said, "Discover's inability to grow its network has everything to do with its poor business model and nothing to do with MasterCard's policies."

Last year, Visa agreed to pay American Express Co. $2.25 billion to settle a similar case.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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