Wells Fargo excessive overdraft class action back in the trial court

Posted on: May 22nd, 2015 by Steve Larson

FeeWells Fargo Bank and plaintiffs that had incurred excessive overdrafts returned for oral arguments before U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King after a two-year pause while Wells Fargo appealed his ruling that its waiver of its right to compel arbitration against the named plaintiffs carries over to the unnamed plaintiffs. The Eleventh Circuit vacated that finding on jurisdictional grounds because the putative class has not yet been certified.

Upon returning to the trial court, plaintiffs filed a motion to certify a class action.  Wells Fargo urged the federal judge in Miami to reject class certification in two putative class actions included in multidistrict litigation over bank overdraft fees, saying the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ proposal would make it impossible to fairly try the claims of all potential class members.

The plaintiffs are seeking to certify a class covering claims over alleged conduct of Wachovia Bank NA, which Wells Fargo later absorbed, in a pair of cases that originated in Florida and California, respectively.

These cases are among a collection of lawsuits that popped up around the country in the late 2000s that claimed banks deceptively deducted money from accounts starting with highest-valued transactions — despite alternate presentations to customers — as part of a tactic designed to maximize overdraft fees.

Some banks were able to compel arbitration based on provisions in their customer agreements, but those that were not — including JPMorgan Chase Bank NA, Bank of America NA, TD Bank NA, and Capital One Bank NA — have settled for hundreds of millions of dollars.

But Wells Fargo said the plaintiffs glossed over the full details of their proposed trial structure, which it describes as overly complex, with 10 subclasses and individual named plaintiffs representing the class only on certain claims in separate trials around the country.

The case is In re: Checking Account Overdraft Litigation, case number 1:09-md-02036, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.