Another week, another multimillion-dollar Telephone Consumer Protection Act class action settlement.
Kenisha Cross alleged that after purchasing a new phone, she received multiple robocalls from Wells Fargo, even after she explained that she was not a customer and requested that the bank cease making the calls. The parties engaged in settlement negotiations and reached a deal totaling $30,446,022.75.
“This is an excellent result considering the risks, uncertainties, burden, and expense associated with continued litigation,” Cross wrote in her unopposed memorandum in support of preliminary approval of the settlement.
Once payments have been made for attorneys’ fees and expenses (not to exceed 30 percent of the total), settlement costs (including notice and claims administration), and an incentive award to Cross, the non-reversionary fund will be distributed on a pro rata basis to each class member who submits a qualified claim. For the class period running April 21, 2011, through December 19, 2015, if each of the estimated 6,409,689 class members filed a claim, the recovery would amount to $4.75 per plaintiff.
The monetary amount falls “well within the range” of TCPA class action deals approved by district courts in similar matters, Cross argued. She cited a $2.63 payment for each member of a class approved in the Southern District of Florida in a case against Sallie Mae, an award of $3.76 in a suit against Bank of America in California federal court, and a payment of $4.53 per member from Capital One in a suit from Illinois.
Class members who do not opt out of the settlement will provide a release of claims that the plaintiff noted are “specifically tailored” to the practices at issue in the suit. The release will apply “only to calls made in connection with overdrafts of deposit accounts during the applicable class period in alleged violation of the TCPA.”
Cross’s claims are typical of the class members, she told the court, and she would fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class, noting that she rejected an early individual offer of judgment “for a significant sum” because it did not provide any relief to the class.
Agreeing that the proposed settlement appeared to be “fair, reasonable, and adequate,” U.S. District Court Judge Richard W. Story granted preliminary approval in August.
To read the plaintiff’s memorandum in support of preliminary approval of the settlement in Cross v. Wells Fargo Bank, click here.
Why it matters: The deal is just the latest example of the multimillion-dollar settlements agreed to by TCPA defendants facing putative class actions. From $8.5 million in a suit against iHeartMedia Inc. to HSBC’s $40 million deal, the Wells Fargo settlement fits right in with the national trend.