Baltimore Court Preliminarily Approves Class Action Settlement...
Baltimore Court Preliminarily Approves Class Action Settlement Between TLPJ, JPMorganChase Bank and Chevy Chase Bank Over Allegedly Excessive Interest Charges to Credit Cardholders
Trial Lawyers for Public Justice* July, 2006
Settlement of $16.1 Million, Negative Information To Be Removed from Consumers Credit Records
Yesterday, Judge John Glynn of the Baltimore City Circuit Court gave preliminary approval to a settlement of a nationwide class action reached by JPMorganChase Bank, N.A. and Chevy Chase Bank, F.S.B. and Trial Lawyers for Public Justice. The class action was brought by TLPJ on behalf of credit cardholders who alleged they were being charged excessive interest rates without legally sufficient notice. The settlement agreement requires the banks to help remove negative information from consumers= credit records and the payment by Chevy Chase Bank of $16.1 million. Chevy Chase Bank sold its credit card business to JP Morgan Chase in 1998. The settlement ends a long-running class action over allegations that the banks breached their contracts with consumers by raising interest rates above a promised 24 percent ceiling, and imposing new and higher fees with a notice that did not meet all of the technical requirements of an allegedly applicable state law. Under the settlement, the banks have agreed to notify credit reporting agencies not to list debts arising from the disputed charges on consumers credit records.
We are gratified by this terrific result for thousands of banking consumers,@ said TLPJ Staff Attorney F. Paul Bland, Jr. It has been a hard-fought, six-year case involving two victories in Maryland's high court, and we are extremely pleased that the banks have done the right thing by consumers.@
TLPJ alleged that the original credit card agreement in 1996 provided that it would Anever@ charge more than 24 percent interest, but the agreement was changed in January 1996 by giving a notice that did not satisfy all legal requirements. On behalf of the cardholders, it also challenged certain late fees and over-limit fees subsequently charged by the banks from 1996 through 2006.
The banks deny that they breached any agreement, or otherwise acted improperly, and believe that their notice complied with both federal and state law. No court has yet reached a determination of liability in the case. If the case were not settled, it would likely take several more years to be resolved.
Under the terms of the settlement, notice will be sent to all of the banks' customers charged the disputed amounts who can be reached in a practical manner. Those customers will be given the opportunity to file claims to be repaid the sums that they were allegedly overcharged, through a streamlined and easy process. Under the terms of the settlement, after all claims are made, and attorneys= fees and expenses are deducted, any remaining funds will be paid to non-profit and charitable organizations that would advance the interests of the consumer class members.
Consumers who believe that they may have been members of the settlement class (which is limited to those who held MasterCard or Visa credit cards issued by Chevy Chase Bank as of January 1996) should go to Trial Lawters for Public Justice, or Proposed Settlement Agreement where they can read the full text of the court-approved notice and the full text of the settlement agreement. They can also find and print out a copy of the form for making claims from the website.
In addition to Bland, TLPJ's legal team in this case includes lead counsel John T. Ward of Baltimore, co-counsel Thomas J. Minton of Goldman and Minton in Baltimore, William H. Murphy of Baltimore, Michael P. Malakoff of Malakoff Doyle & Finberg, P.C., in Pittsburgh, and TLPJ's Staff Attorney Leslie A. Brueckner, Power-Cotchett Attorney Michael J. Quirk, Goldberg-Saladoff Fellow Richard Frankel, and former TLPJ attorney Victoria Nugent.
This press release provided by Trial Lawyers for Public Justice. Questions regarding its content can be directed to http://www.tlpj.org/