Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Fifth Third Bank, Alleging Bank Improperly Charges Overdraft Fees, Violating Federal Law, State Law, and Its Contract With Customers

Feb 01, 2010, 13:03 ET from Tycko & Zavareei LLP

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- A class action lawsuit filed today would require Fifth Third Bank to refund hundreds of millions of dollars in unlawful overdraft charges -- which were often charged even when the customers had enough funds in their accounts to pay for purchases.

"It is one thing to charge an overdraft fee when someone has actually overdrawn their account.  It is entirely another to charge an overdraft fee when the customer's account has sufficient funds.  Even worse, in some cases Fifth Third charges overdraft fees and additional fees for every day an account is overdrawn -- even when an account is overdrawn solely because of bank fees charged by Fifth Third.  The bank is essentially charging overdraft fees on overdraft fees," said Hassan Zavareei, a partner at the Washington, D.C.-based law firm Tycko & Zavareei LLP, which represents the plaintiff.

"This is outrageous bank conduct, made worse by the fact that most of the bank's victims are struggling to make ends meet," said Zavareei.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court on behalf of Marlene Willard, of Hephzibah, Georgia, and other bank customers who were unfairly and illegally charged overdraft fees by Fifth Third Bancorp for charges they made on their ATM/debit cards.

The class action lawsuit alleges that these fees violate federal and state law, as well as the contractual relationship the bank has with its customers.  The lawsuit seeks certification of a class action on behalf of Fifth Third Bank customers who were improperly charged overdraft fees or who received insufficient disclosures about such overdraft fees.

The complaint alleges that Fifth Third Bank manipulates debit transaction posting to cause overdraft fees even when there are sufficient funds to pay for a certain purchase.  Further, Fifth Third Bank fails to properly disclose fees that will be charged at the point of sale, and uses deceptive disclosures in its contract with customers to hide its true overdraft policies.

"We are continuing to investigate Fifth Third and other banks around the country.  Customers must be compensated for bank practices that caused hundreds of millions of dollars in improperly charged fees," Zavareei said.

The complaint also alleges that Fifth Third Bank has not allowed its customers to opt out of "overdraft protection," as recommended by Federal regulators.

Fifth Third Bancorp is a diversified financial services company headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The Company has over $100 billion in assets and operates 16 affiliates with 1,306 full-service Banking Centers in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Georgia and North Carolina. 

The lawsuit is captioned Willard v. Fifth Third Financial Group, Inc. and has been filed in the Northern District of Georgia.

Copies of the complaint may be obtained from Hassan Zavareei at Tycko & Zavareei LLP.

SOURCE Tycko & Zavareei LLP