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Banking Cases

Wells Fargo Force-Placed Insurance Class Action. Himmelstein Law Network represents homeowners with mortgages serviced by Wells Fargo who were "force-placed" into hazard and flood insurance. Mortgage lenders generally require that homeowners maintain adequate hazard and (where applicable) flood insurance, to protect the lender's interest in the property. If the homeowner allows the coverage to lapse, new coverage is obtained by the mortgage servicer, who passes the cost on to the homeowner. This is called "force-placed" insurance.

Plaintiffs allege that Wells Fargo and American Security Insurance Company (ASIC) engaged in a "kickback" scheme to overcharge homeowners for force-placed insurance. Instead of purchasing the insurance on the open market at commercially reasonable rates, Wells Fargo refers all such business to ASIC or another insurance company, QBE Insurance Corp., who kick back a portion of the premium to Wells Fargo disguised as a "commission." Wells Fargo also charges borrowers for carrying out its insurance-related responsibilites, for which it has already been paid by the mortgage owner, such as Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. As a result, homeowners are charged two to ten times the cost of regular insurance.

In January 2014, in a pivotal opinion, the Court denied the defendants' motions to dismiss plaintiffs' claim for violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO").

In October 2014, a different judge of the same Court upheld the sufficiency of RICO and other claims against ASIC, Ocwen Loan Servicing, and Litton Loan Servicing.

Wells Fargo Overdraft Litigation. In 2010, Barry was part of the San Francisco trial team that obtained a $203 million judgment against Wells Fargo Bank for manipulating the order of processing debit card transactions to increase the number of overdraft fees imposed on its California accountholders. (Luckily, he walked away from a helicopter crash after an earlier hearing in the case.) The first and only such case to go to trial, it prompted a wave of nationwide settlements.

Checking Account Overdraft Litigation. Prior to his departure from Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein in 2011, Barry was on the Plaintiffs' Executive Committee in this multidistrict litigation proceeding involving more than 35 banks who manipulated the order of processing their customers' debit card transactions to generate overdraft fees.

Wells Fargo Lifetime Free Checking Litigation. In 1999, Barry negotiated a settlement on behalf of 164,000 customers of Wells Fargo Bank who had been promised lifetime free checking by other banks subsequently acquired by Wells Fargo.

The Towers
2000 Powell St.
Suite 1605
Emeryville, CA 94608-1861
510.450.0782 (phone)
510.924.0403 (fax)