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Capital One Motion For Summary Judgment In Overdraft Fees Case Denied In SDNY

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon

SDNY COURTHOUSE, June 25 – Three years after Capital One Bank was sued for its overdraft fees on debit card transactions for which there were sufficient funds available in the customers' accounts, on June 25 the bank's motion for summary judgment was denied by U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Lorna G. Schofield.   

   Judge Schofield after her ruling joked that it felt like the case began in last century. She gave the lawyers for named plaintiff Tawanna M. Roberts two weeks to file a letter presaging their motion for class certification.   

   The case has already seen one appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which partially reversed Judge Schofield's granting of Capital One's motion to dismiss Roberts' causes of action for breach of contract and violation of New York General Business Law § 349.     

   The case has attracted interest as an example, consumer advocates say, of predatory practice, citing a Capital One account agreement which states that an overdraft occurs when it “elects to pay” a transaction that exceeds a customer’s available balance. 

  The advocates say that by charging overdraft fees on transactions that the bank elected to pay when the available balance was sufficient, but that later settled against negative funds, Capital One led consumers to believe it would do one thing while doing the opposite, inflicting significant financial hardship - that is, overdraft fees - on affected customers in the process.    

  In the run-up to the June 25 oral arguments, Judge Schofield informed the parties that she would only grant argument to lawyers graduating in 2014 or more recently. Capital One's law firm Morrison Foerster proposed a 2013 graduate, Tiffani B. Figueroa. Judge Schofield approved it, and the argument took place with Sophia Goren Gold representing Tawanna Roberts. Now she seeks class certification. The case is Roberts v. Capital One Financial Corporation, 16-cv-4841 (Schofield).

   After her June 25 ruling, Judge Schofield said that there might be material even in the transcript of the oral argument, which took place in open court, which should be redacted. This follows an entirely sealed criminal sentencing Judge Schofield held on June 17, without disclosing even the name of the case or defendant, much less the reason(s) for sealing.

     In this case, both sides quickly said no, there was nothing to redact. Like the sentencing, it is a matter of public interest. Inner City Press, which has not been told what sentencing was moved out of its view on June 17 (and which was the only media in Judge Schofield's courtroom for the Capital One oral arguments on June 25) will stay on these cases. More on Patreon, here.


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