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Wells Fargo Announces Agreement in Principle to Settle Class Action Lawsuit

March 30, 2017, 08:00 AM
Filed Under: Legal
Related: Legal, Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo announced that it has reached an agreement in principle to settle a class action lawsuit concerning retail sales practices, which was filed in May 2015 in the Northern District of California (Jabbari v. Wells Fargo, N.A., et al.). The settlement class will consist of all persons who claim that Wells Fargo opened an account in their name without consent, enrolled them in a product or service without consent, or submitted an application for a product or service in their name without consent during the period from January 1, 2009, through the date the Settlement Agreement is executed.  Wells Fargo expects this settlement to resolve claims in 11 other pending class actions that unauthorized accounts were opened in customers’ names or that customers were enrolled in products or services without their consent.

“This agreement is another step in our journey to make things right with customers and rebuild trust,” said Tim Sloan, Wells Fargo’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We want to ensure that each customer impacted by our sales practices issue has every opportunity for remediation, and this agreement presents an additional option. We continue to encourage customers to contact us directly so that we can act quickly to refund fees and address any concerns.”

The settlement amount of $110 million will be set aside for customer remediation. After attorneys’ fees and costs of administration, class members will be paid first for out-of-pocket losses, such as fees incurred due to unauthorized account openings.  Amounts remaining after out-of-pocket losses will be split among all claimants, based on the number and kinds of unauthorized accounts or services claimed.

The two sides disputed the applicability of the arbitration agreement contained in Wells Fargo’s deposit agreements.  In order to move forward and avoid continued litigation, Wells Fargo agreed to this settlement notwithstanding the arbitration clause.

Wells Fargo had fully accrued for the amount of this settlement at December 31, 2016.

Ongoing Remediation Efforts Continue

This settlement is in addition to the remediation amounts previously paid under the stipulated judgment with the Los Angeles City Attorney and the fees paid under the CFPB and OCC consent orders, covering the period 2011 - 2016. Wells Fargo is continuing to work to make things right with customers who were impacted by sales practices issues, including its own voluntary review of accounts from 2009 – 2010 to determine and remediate any customer harm.  It will also continue its nationwide mediation program to address customer concerns.

Next Steps

The settlement agreement must be approved by the court.  If the court grants preliminary approval of the settlement agreement, a notice will be issued providing information concerning the process for making claims, and customers who believe they should be included in this suit will be able to submit claims.  The court also will need to grant final approval of the settlement before payments will be made to class members. 

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