May 15 A federal judge has again ordered Wells Fargo & Co to pay $203 million to settle class action litigation accusing it of imposing excessive overdraft fees on checking account customers, reviving an award that had been thrown out last year.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup on Tuesday reinstated a penalty he had first imposed in August 2010, saying the fourth-largest U.S. bank violated a California law that protects consumers against fraudulent representations.
Wells Fargo spokeswoman Richele Messick said the San Francisco-based bank plans to appeal. "We don't believe that the ruling is in line with facts of this case or the law," she said.
Overdraft fees are typically $25 or $35, and are incurred by consumers who overdraw their checking accounts, often by making purchases with debit cards.
Wells Fargo had been accused of processing such purchases from largest to smallest rather than chronologically, to maximize the number of overdraft fees it could charge.
In December, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the original award, saying federal law displaced part of a California state law on which Alsup relied in imposing a related injunction on Wells Fargo.
But it said federal law did not displace California consumer law with respect to fraudulent or misleading representations, and directed Alsup to decide again what relief was appropriate.
The case is Gutierrez et al v. Wells Fargo Bank NA, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 07-05923.