In August 2012, Trief & Olk was honored by the nonprofit organization Public Justice for its central role in an ongoing class action litigation against many of the largest banks in the United States. The litigation, known as In re Checking Account Overdraft Litigation, involved an accounting trick used by consumer banks to reorder the deductions made from consumer accounts which caused the accounts to bounce checks and overdraw account funds sooner. This accounting trick drove up the overdraft fees paid by bank customers, and resulted in big profits for the banks. Trief & Olk responded by filing and aggressively pursuing class action lawsuits on behalf of the banks’ thousands of victims.
As a result of the efforts of the litigation team, multiple banks elected to enter into settlement agreements, with the customers’ fees being paid back directly into their accounts. Bank of America reached a settlement agreement for $410 million, and settlements are awaiting court approval include Citizens Bank ($137.5 million), which Trief & Olk co-led, JP Morgan Chase Bank ($110 million) and Union Bank ($35 million).
TRIEF & OLK ANNOUNCES $137.5 MILLION SETTLEMENT IN CITIZENS OVERDRAFT CASE
April 25, 2012 – Trief & Olk, co-leading the multidistrict litigation against Citizens Financial Group, announces that plaintiffs have reached a $137.5 million settlement in In re: Checking Account Overdraft Litigation. The settlement is the second largest to date in the nationwide litigation. Citizens, a unit of the Royal Bank of Scotland, joins Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and several smaller lenders, in settling lawsuits related to overdraft fees.
TRIEF & OLK, CO-LEADING CASES AGAINST CITIZENS FINANCIAL GROUP AND CITIBANK, ON BEHALF OF THE PLAINTIFFS IN THE MULTIDISTRICT CHECKING ACCOUNT OVERDRAFT LITIGATION
December 20, 2011 – Trief & Olk is co-leading the multidistrict litigation against Citizens Financial Group and Citibank, related to the banks’ reordering of debit card transactions to increase overdraft fees. The multidistrict litigation includes many of the nation’s largest banks including Bank of America, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase. Trief & Olk is also on the plaintiffs’ executive committee with respect to the entire multidistrict litigation.
Approximately 60 cases, virtually all of them class actions, have been transferred from around the country to Judge King in Miami who is responsible for handling all pre-trial proceedings. There has been an approved settlement in November of 2011 in the Bank of America case for $410 million dollars. Other settlements are pending.
Trief & Olk is currently participating in class action litigation against most major national banks for improperly debiting consumer accounts by charging excessive overdraft fees.
News stories in major publications have reported on this practice and it has been scrutinized by consumer groups and been the subject of governmental action.
- New York Times: November 13, 2009
- USA Today: September 09, 2009
- Wall Street Journal: November 17, 2009
- Federal Reserve System Press Release: November 12, 2009
- Center for Responsible Lending Report: October 06, 2009
Instead of assessing charges made with a debit card in chronological order, the banks have re-ordered them to post the largest transaction first in order to incur the greatest number of overcharges.
As a result of this practice, the banks have unfairly collected billions of dollars from their customers in overdraft fees.
Here’s how it works: assume a bank customer has a checking account with a $100 balance and in chronological order makes four purchases of $10, $25, $35, and $101. If the charges are assessed to the account in this order, one overdraft fee would result.
However, by debiting the charges from largest to smallest, four overdraft fees are charged.
In this class action, Trief & Olk is part of a team that is seeking to recover these unfair and deceptive charges for consumers.