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Comerica Must Face Class Action in Overdraft Fee Case

Comerica Inc. customers may sue the bank as a class over claims that banks wrongly charged overdraft fees, a federal judge ruled.

More than 30 banks have been sued by customers claiming the banks reordered their overdrafts to maximize the fees they paid. Comerica is the sixth bank to lose a bid to force the customers to pursue their claims individually.

“Surely you’re not saying the bank would welcome 50,000 cases in small claims court,” U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King told the attorney for Dallas-based Comerica today in Miami federal court. “This is a question of whether there’s a suit or none at all.”

The judge added that “there wouldn’t be lawyers to take the cases and it would just go away.”

Several banks have already agreed to settle the claims, with Bank of America Corp. agreeing to pay $410 million, the highest settlement. The cases have been consolidated in Miami for pre-trial proceedings.

“I thought Comerica fell into class certification just as the other five had and the banks that have settled have,” said Bruce Rogow, one of the lead attorneys for the bank customers. “I was pleased with the ruling.”

Comerica spokesman Wayne J. Mielke said the bank anticipated the ruling and will continue fighting the lawsuit.

The case is In re Checking Account Overdraft Litigation, 09-md-02036, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Miami).

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