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Beasley v. Wells Fargo Bank

California Class ActionSan Francisco Superior Court Case No. 861555

Case Type:  Consumer RightsConsumer Fraud

A statewide class of credit card holders challenged Wells Fargo Bank’s assessment of fees for failure to make timely payments or exceeding credit limits.  The jury awarded the class $5.2 million in 1989 after a six-week trial for unlawful liquidated damages imposed through excessive late fees and overlimit charges.  Defendant was also ordered to pay the costs of distributing the damage award to the class.  A related case handled by the firm, Kovitz v. Crocker National Bank, et al., San Francisco Superior Court Case No. 868914, settled in 1990 for $3.78 million in damages for a statewide class of Crocker Bank cardholders, contingent upon plaintiffs’ success on the bank’s appeal in Beasley.  The damages judgment in Beasley was upheld on appeal in Beasley v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (1991) 235 Cal.App.3d 1383.  Also upheld separately was the trial court’s order of attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses of nearly $2 million under Code of Civil Procedure §1021.5, California’s private attorney general statute.  Beasley v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (1991) 235 Cal.App.3d 1385; 235 Cal.App.3d 1407.  The bank’s petitions for review of both opinions were denied in March 1992.  Following distribution of the damages fund in these actions, approximately $3.3 million of undistributed residue was given to non-profit consumer education, advocacy, and legal services organizations for the creation of a cy pres remedy to address consumer credit and finance issues in California.

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