Last week Wells Fargo agreed to two separate Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) Class Action Settlements. Both cases were filed in federal court in Georgia.  The first was Prather v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (Case No. 15-cv-04231, N.D. GA). The second was Luster v. Wells Fargo Dealer Services, Inc. et. al. (Case No. 15-cv-01058, N.D. GA). 

Prather v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

In the Prather Case Wells Fargo (Wells) will pay over $2 million to approximately 446,000 consumers to settle a suit brought by student loan borrowers who say they Wells called them using automatic telephone dialing systems (ATDS) without prior express consent.

Wells denied the material allegations in Plaintiffs’ complaint, disputed that Wells made any calls using an ATDS without prior express consent, contended that the claims of Plaintiffs and the other members of the class are not amenable to class certification, and denied that Plaintiffs and the members of the class are entitled to damages.

Nevertheless, after lengthy, good faith, contentious, arm’s-length negotiations, with the assistance of a mediator, Plaintiffs obtained Wells Fargo’s agreement to resolve this matter on a class-wide basis for an all-cash settlement totaling over $2 million.

The class includes all wireless phone customers who received a student-loan-related call from Wells between April 21, 2011, and Dec. 19, 2015, made with automated technology or artificial or prerecorded voice technology.

The settlement will be distributed on a pro rata basis, with each class member expected to receive somewhere between $20 and $60. Prior to the final fairness hearing in this matter, the named plaintiffs will ask the Court for an incentive award not to exceed $15,000, and Plaintiffs’ counsel will ask the Court for an award of attorneys’ fees not to exceed 30% of the settlement fund.

A copy of the memorandum in support of Plaintiff’s unopposed motion for preliminary approval of the settlement can be found here.  

Luster v. Wells Fargo Dealer Services, Inc. et. al.

In the Luster case the plaintiff claimed that Wells had made autodialed calls to his cell phone number for the past four years, trying to collect debts apparently owed by two people he didn’t know. He claimed that he had never given Wells any type of permission to call his cell phone.

As in the Prather case, Wells denied the material allegations in the complaint, disputed that it made any calls using an ATDS without consent, contended that the claims of Plaintiff and the other members of the class are not amenable to class certification and denied that Mr. Luster and the members of the class are entitled to damages.

After mediation, Wells Fargo Dealer Services Inc. and its parent company, Wells Fargo Bank N.A., agreed to a $15.7 million settlement that would compensate 3.38 million members of the proposed class. That class would include anyone with a cell phone number to which Wells Fargo Dealer Services made a collection call about an auto retail installment sale contract with an ATDS from April 2011 to March 2016.

If approved, the class members would receive $4.65 each, according to the motion. At the fairness hearing the named plaintiffs will ask for an incentive award not above $20,000 and Plaintiff’s counsel will ask for attorneys’ fees that would be capped at 30 percent of the settlement fund, or about $4,722,000.

A copy of the memorandum in support of Plaintiff’s unopposed motion for preliminary approval of the settlement can be found here.  

insideARM Perspective 

In June of last year insideARM wrote about a Wells/TCPA settlement for $16.3 million in the matter of Markos v. Well Fargo Bank, N.A. (Case No. 1:15-cv-01156, ND GA). The calls at issue in that case were all non-emergency, debt-collection calls and texts made in connection with Home Equity Loans and Residential Mortgage Loans. 

In August of last year insideARM wrote about another Wells/TCPA settlement for $30 million in the matter of Cross v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (Case No 1:15-cv-01270, N.D. GA).  The calls at issue in that case were calls to cellular telephone numbers regarding overdrafts of consumers’ deposit accounts without prior express consent. 

One would hope that these two settlements would be the end of TCPA issues and exposure for Wells.  But, perhaps not. The four settlements mentioned above cover student loans, automobile loans, home equity/residential home mortgages, and deposit accounts. Wells has other product lines that haven’t been included in these settlements.

 


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