Toronto Dominion Bank customers who claim they were gouged on overdraft fees for checking accounts can proceed as a group, ruled a judge who certified the case as a class-action lawsuit.
U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King certified the class in federal court in Miami, saying it was “eminently manageable.” TD Bank, Canada’s second-largest lender, faces lawsuits by customers who claim it reordered debits and check withdrawals to maximize fees when customers overdrew accounts.
“Nearly all of the class members in this case have claims that are so small that it would cost them much more to litigate an individual case than they could ever hope to recover in damages,” King ruled yesterday. “Concentrating the litigation in this forum is logical and desirable.”
Rebecca Acevedo, a spokeswoman for TD Bank, said the bank wouldn’t comment on pending litigation. JPMorgan Chase & Co., the biggest U.S. bank by assets, has reached a preliminary agreement to pay $110 million to settle litigation. Bank of America Corp., the second-biggest U.S. bank by assets, agreed last year to pay $410 million without admitting liability.
Bruce Rogow, one of the lead attorneys for the customers, said he was pleased with the ruling.
“From the very beginning, I saw all of these cases as quintessential class actions,” he said in a telephone interview. “What else could they be?”
All TD Bank Customers
TD Bank’s attorney, Bill Kayatta, argued against the certification in a March 26 hearing because he said each customer had a different situation. Some knew that the bank had a policy of reordering the overdrafts, some learned after they were charged fees and some may have never known, he said.
The judge ruled the class included all TD Bank customers who had paid an overdraft fee as a result of the reordering, from the statute of limitations until Aug. 13, 2010. Different statutes of limitations will apply in different states, he ruled.
TD Bank spent more than $25 billion sinde 2004 to expand in the U.S., including the acquisitions of Portland, Maine-based TD Banknorth and Cherry Hill, New Jersey-based Commerce Bancorp Inc.
The case is In re Checking Account Overdraft Litigation, 09-md-02036, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Miami).