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Ninth Circuit Shuts Down Class Action Debit Card Fee Lawsuit Against Bank of America
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Ninth Circuit Shuts Down Class Action Debit Card Fee Lawsuit Against Bank of America

Robinson v. Bank of American, NA

A proposed class of complainants filed an action against Bank of America, NA over the bank’s service fees for payroll debit cards, relying on California’s fraud and unfair competition laws. The federal district dismissed the action, based on its finding that the National Bank Act preempts state law fraud and unfair competition claims.

Tyrone Robinson sued Bank of America (BoA) on behalf of a putative class for fraud and unfair/deceptive trade practices related to fees charged pursuant to BoA’s CashPay card program. Robinson claimed BoA improperly failed to properly notify customers or otherwise disclose the fact that the $1.50/month service charge applicable to CashPay accounts could be avoided by withdrawing all funds from the account each month, prior to assessment of the fee.

Robinson based his claims on violations of the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act (Cal. Civ. Code § 1770(a)), California Unfair Competition Law (Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200, et seq.), and fraud by omission statute (Cal. Civ. Code § 1710).

The district court granted BoA’s Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings and dismissed Robinson’s complaint, reasoning his claims were preempted by the National Bank Act, 12 U.S.C. § 24 (2006).

The proposed class appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel sided with District Judge George H. King, holding Judge King properly dismissed the case on preemption grounds, resulting in a win for Bank of America.

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