On March 4, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California issued an order granting five separate motions for dismissal filed by a national bank and several independent ATM operators (defendants) regarding allegations that the defendants (i) charged unwarranted fees for using out-of-network (OON) ATMs for balance inquiries; (ii) made deceptive and misleading representations on screens and on signs regarding those fees; and (iii) assessed fees in violation of governing account documents. The plaintiffs’ putative class action alleged 13 claims against the defendants for violations of California’s Unfair Competition Law (CUCL), California’s False Advertising Law (FAL), and the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA), as well as for conversion, negligence, and breach of contract. The defendants premised their motions to dismiss on several bases, including a lack of subject matter jurisdiction, lack of personal jurisdiction, and the plaintiffs’ failure to plead the necessary elements of the claims.
The court generally agreed with the arguments made by the defendants as to the court’s lack of subject matter and personal jurisdiction. In particular, the court held that the common law claims brought on behalf of the nationwide class should be dismissed for lack of Article III standing because the named plaintiffs failed to allege they were charged the relevant balance inquiry fees in states outside of California. In addition, the court agreed with an argument raised by one defendant that the plaintiffs lacked standing to file claims for injunctive relief for violations of the CUCL, FAL, and CLRA because they failed to allege a likelihood of actual or imminent future harm; specifically, they failed to allege they intended to use the ATMs in the future to make balance inquiries. The court thereafter assessed the plaintiffs’ remaining common law and statutory claims, and in each case, granted the defendants’ motions to dismiss the claims for various failures to establish the necessary elements of each of the alleged claims. Of the 13 dismissed claims, the court permitted plaintiffs leave to amend 10 of them. The court required any amended complaint address the standing issues related to claims brought on behalf of the California and nationwide classes.