Last week a Federal Judge in Georgia granted initial approval of a $30 million Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) class action settlement involving Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (Wells Fargo). The case is Cross v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (Case No 1:15-cv-01270-RWS, United States District Court, Northern District of Georgia). The Honorable Richard W. Story of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia gave the proposed settlement preliminary approval and scheduled a January hearing to consider final approval.
A copy of the Order can be found here.
Kenisha Cross alleged, on behalf of herself and a class of similarly situated individuals, that Wells Fargo violated the TCPA by using an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS) to place calls to cellular telephone numbers regarding overdrafts of consumers’ deposit accounts without prior express consent.
Wells Fargo denied the material allegations in Ms. Cross’s complaint; disputed that it used an ATDS to contact without prior express consent from either Ms. Cross or the members of the class she seeks to represent; contended that Mr. Cross’s claims and the claims of the members of the class are not amenable to class certification; and denied that Ms. Cross and the members of the class are entitled to damages.
The Proposed Settlement
Following mediation, Wells Fargo agreed to resolve this matter on a class-wide basis for an all-cash settlement totaling over $30 million. Each class member who submits a qualified claim will receive a pro rata distribution from the settlement fund. No amount will revert to Wells Fargo.
The class is estimated at 6,409,689 members, described as follows:
“All users or subscribers to a wireless or cellular service within the United States who used or subscribed to a phone number to which Wells Fargo made or initiated one or more Calls during the Class Period, in connection with overdrafts of deposit accounts, using any automated dialing technology or artificial or prerecorded voice technology, according to Wells Fargo’s available records.”
The class period is April 21, 2011 through December 19, 2015.
This settlement class is narrowly tailored only to calls made in connection with overdrafts of deposit accounts during the applicable class period in alleged violation of the TCPA.
Prior to the final fairness hearing in this matter, Ms. Cross will ask the Court for an incentive award not to exceed $15,000, and counsel for Ms. Cross will ask the Court for an award of attorneys’ fees and expenses not to exceed 30% of the settlement fund.
The parties agreed to resolve this matter for a settlement fund in excess of $30 million, or approximately $4.75 per class member. While the $30+ million settlement figure is staggering, with a class of over 6,400,000 members, the potential exposure for Wells Fargo was substantial.
This settlement continues the string of TCPA settlements that were reported by insideARM over the past several weeks. See also