Feds sue TCF National Bank for overdraft fee policy

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has filed a lawsuit against TCF National Bank, alleging it tricked customers into agreeing to pay overdraft fees.

Under recent law, a bank cannot charge overdraft fees on debit purchases or ATM withdrawals unless the customer specifically agrees.

Until a recent change in the law, banks would cover the purchase but assess an overdraft fee for each transaction. The customer would not know that they were overdrawn, until it was too late.

Banks said that they were providing their customers a short-term loan. But customers said that they would rather have their purchase be declined and not have to pay a fee.

So the new law allows banks to charge the overdraft fees if the client agrees in advance. However, TCF National Bank, it is alleged, designed its application process to make it appear that customers had to accept “overdraft protection” when they opened their accounts.

“Today we are suing TCF for tricking consumers into costly overdraft services in order to preserve its bottom line,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray.” The suit asks for compensation for affected customers, a civil money penalty and an injunction to prevent future violations.

The normal procedure when customers make a debit card purchase for which there is not enough money in their account is for the sale to be declined. That alerts the customer, and avoids expensive fees.

It should be noted the law on overdraft fees applies only to debit cards. It does not include checks.

It should also be noted that President Trump is not a fan of the CFPB or its Director Cordray. So in the future these customer protections may no longer exist. The banks will be allowed to do whatever they please to their customers. So much for “draining the swamp”.

If you need further info on this or any other legal matter, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.
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Johnson and Johnson–A NAME YOU CANNOT TRUST

Large Verdicts in Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Lawsuits

Johnson and Johnson (J&J) will pay close to $200 million in damages to three women who developed ovarian cancer after using talcum powder for feminine hygiene for decades. These awards included punitive damages of more than $50 million. J&J is still selling the deadly powder without a warning label. It knew about the risks as far back as the 1970’s.

There are about 2,000 ovarian cancer claims pending against J&J.

J&J Hid the Risk

At one trial internal J&J documents showed that the company knew about the risk and intentionally hid the risk. J&J promoted its talcum powder products specifically for feminine hygiene knowing it could cause cancer.

Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate victims for their economic and non-economic damages. Punitive damages are awarded to punish the bad guy.

With the huge verdicts, J&J will have to consider paying victims substantial amounts in settlements.

If you or someone you know has developed ovarian cancer after regular use of baby powder or Shower to Shower for feminine hygiene, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.


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Monster Energy Drink Sued for Death of 19-Year Old

Monster Energy Drink killed a teenager, alleges his father’s lawsuit.

Dustin Hood drank three and one-half 24-ounce cans of the buzz drink within a 24-hour period.  According to the lawsuit, after he drank the last can, he played basketball and collapsed on the concrete court.  He was rushed to the hospital where he died a short time later.

According to the lawsuit, the nineteen year old died of cardiac arrhythmia … triggered by a caffeine overload.  The suit claims that three and one-half cans of Monster has the equivalent caffeine of 14, 12 ounce cans of Coke.

The suit notes others have suffered cardiac arrest following the “acute consumption” of Monster Energy Drinks.

If you need further info about this or any other legal matter, call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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New York Attorney General probing reverse mortgages at Treasury nominee Mnuchin’s ex-bank

The New York attorney general’s office is investigating reverse-mortgage servicing companies. This includes a unit of the bank Treasury Secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin ran. Financial Freedom, a unit of OneWest bank, is being probed over complaints it deliberately targeted seniors with dementia and other memory-loss related issues.

Champion Mortgage, a unit of Nationstar Mortgage, is also under scrutiny over some aggressive practices.

OneWest was created from IndyMac Bank, a failed California mortgage lender, during the housing collapse. Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs banker, put together an investor group to buy the deeply discounted assets from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

OneWest, which became Southern California’s largest bank, was sold to CIT Group.

Financial Freedom and Champion are accused of withholding documents from reverse mortgage holders and aggressive tactics.

In some cases, a senior may have missed a single property tax payment that the company would use to initiate foreclosure.

Nationstar also has come under the scrutiny of the state’s financial services regulator over its mortgage servicing.

The New York attorney general’s probe was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

If you need further info about this or any other legal matter, call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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Who is Liable in a Commercial Truck Crash?

Semi’s or 18 wheelers, are large vehicles that create dangerous situations for other motorists. When a commercial truck crashes, it can cause a tremendous amount of damage to other vehicles and injuries to other motorists and passengers. While truck drivers can be at fault, the legal responsibility is not always solely with the driver.

“Respondeat Superior”

Often the party found to be liable is the company that hired the truck driver. In personal injury law, there is a principle known as “respondeat superior”. Basically, it means that the person who placed the negligent driver behind the wheel, should take the responsibility for the damage caused by that person.

For example, if a company hired a driver who had a history of accidents, in most cases, that company would be liable for a crash. In most states, you must prove that the driver was working on company time when the crash occurred.

The Truck Manufacturer

If the accident was caused by a truck malfunction, it would be the truck manufacturer or parts maker that could be held liable.

A truck accident could be caused by one of a wide variety of defects, the usual causes are:

  • Faulty straps or other form of cargo restraint
  • Broken hydraulics
  • Broken headlights, brake lights, or turn signals
  • Defective anti-lock braking system
  • Defective hitches
  • Brake failure
  • Defective tires
  • Malfunctioning steering.

Negligent Driver

The driver of the truck is likely to take some part of responsibility for an accident.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers of large trucks in 2014 had a higher rate of accidents (14 percent), than any other type of driver. Truck drivers are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. These regulations mandate that drivers must:

  • Have a valid commercial vehicle driver’s license
  • Test negative on all drug and alcohol tests
  • Pass annual driving reviews
  • Conduct basic inspection of the vehicle before driving
  • Keep a log of how many hours of sleep they receive each night on the road

If a truck driver is involved in an accident and does not pass any of these tests then he will, in most cases, be held liable for a crash.


If you need further info about this or any other legal matter, call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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Injuries to a passenger in a car that was hit by a drunk driver?

A drunk driver is much more likely to be in a car crash, and those crashes often result in injuries and death to passengers.

Criminal convictions will not fully compensate victims who were injured.

Proving negligence

Negligence per se can occur when a person is guilty of  drunk driving.  In California, for purposes of showing negligence per se, section 669 of the California Evidence Code requires proof of the following three elements:

  • The defendant violated a statute or ordinance
  • That violation was the proximate cause of the claimant’s injury
  • The statute or ordinance (drunk driving) was designed to protect the public from that kind of occurrence

When a drunk driver’s violation of a statute or ordinance proximately causes injury, negligence per se can be established.

Civil courts allow victims to seek damages against drunk drivers. Those damages might consist of:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Past and future lost earnings
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Permanent disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of a normal life
  • Funeral costs in the event of a wrongful death

Punitive damages awarded to passengers

The victim might seek punitive damages from the drunk driver. In California an injured person is allowed to seek punitive damages from a drunk driver. The purpose of those punitive damages is to deter others from drunk driving. Insurance companies do not pay punitive damages awards. The victim would need to collect those damages directly from the drunk driver.

If you need additional info, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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California Citibank Mortgage Force-Placed Insurance Investigation

A lawsuit investigation has been launched of Citibank Mortgage into what seems to be an industry-wide practice of banks and lenders overcharging California homeowners for “force-placed insurance”.

Force-placed insurance is flood, homeowners, or other type of insurance imposed by the mortgage company if a homeowner’s own insurance policy lapses. Force-placed insurance is not illegal, but several lenders allegedly overcharge for the insurance policies in exchange for kickbacks.

Mortgage holders are required to maintain home hazard insurance to protect the property in the event of a disaster. This insurance often includes flood insurance, earthquake insurance, and other types of disaster insurance.

Force-placed insurance, also known as lender-placed insurance, is a home or flood insurance policy placed by a lender or bank in the event that the hazard insurance policy is cancelled, has lapsed, or is deemed insufficient.

This has allegedly led to widespread abuses against consumers, including agreements that prevent banks from issuing policies with competitors. The insurer then takes a portion of the homeowners’ premium and gives it to the bank as a “kickback”.

This can result in homeowners paying far more for the force-placed insurance policy than if they had purchased a policy on the open market.

Furthermore, force-placed insurance has sometimes been billed to homeowners retroactively. In other words, homeowners were billed for property insurance during the period of time that their previous policy had lapsed, in addition to being billed for a new policy. There have been reports that homeowners have been billed for force-placed insurance even though they already have a home insurance policy.

If you need information on this or any other legal issue, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.



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Fidelity National Unit Nears Settlement Over Robo-Signing Allegations


A Fidelity National Financial Inc. subsidiary is in talks to pay as much as $65 million to resolve government accusations that it contributed to fraudulent foreclosures after the 2008 credit crisis. LPS, which provided technology and services to lenders such as Wells Fargo & Co. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., has faced accusations that it filed fraudulent documents used in the repossession of homes. Fidelity National’s Service Link subsidiary is responsible for the new settlement. Service Link has been negotiating with regulators over a probable penalty. Wells Fargo paid $70 million in a similar agreement this year.

Before Fidelity National acquired the Florida-based company in 2014, LPS had already settled with dozens of states for $127 million. It paid another $35 million to settle a Justice Department inquiry in which it was said to have been involved in a “six-year scheme to prepare and file more than 1 million fraudulently signed and notarized mortgage-related documents.”

Lorraine Brown, former chief executive officer of LPS’s DocX LLC subsidiary, spent more than three years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Brown, who was released on parole Aug. 31, had been accused by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette of establishing “a widespread scheme of ‘robo-signing,’ a practice in which employees were directed to fraudulently sign another authorized person’s name on mortgage documents in order to execute these documents as quickly as possible.”


If you need additional info about this or any other legal matter, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.



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New York Governor Cuomo Proposes Reverse Mortgage, Other Senior Protections


New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing a series of safeguards against reverse mortgage problems and a watchdog role for banks where employees can help spot other financial abuses.

“These proposals will help seniors keep their finances and assets from being vulnerable to thieves and unscrupulous practices,” Cuomo said in a statement outlining the legislation.

Reverse mortgages are a growing phase of the home finance industry. It allows seniors age 62 and older to access the equity in their home by getting a monthly check from a lender.

They agree to repay the reverse mortgage when they die or move from the home.

Homeowners, though, are still responsible for expenses such as insurance and property taxes, which can lead to possibly foreclosures.

Under Cuomo’s plan, the same safeguards applicable to a regular mortgages would apply to reverse mortgages. Those include the need for settlement conferences to see if the problems can be resolved.

The governor is also planning an Elder Abuse Certification Program in which bank employees can be trained to spot signs of elder financial abuse. Banks would be able to display a certificate so consumers know such safeguards are available.

The plan would let banks place holds on suspicious transactions involving seniors. Banks would also have to notify state agencies if a hold is applied.

It remains to be seen if this legislation will pass into law or if other states will follow suit.


If you need additional info about this or any other legal matter, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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Walmart Same-Sex Benefits Discrimination Settlement

A $7.5 million class action settlement between Walmart and workers denied same-sex spouses’ benefits is on track for preliminary approval.

“We’re very pleased that Judge Young informed us that he plans to grant preliminary approval, and has set a fairness hearing date of May 11,” said attorney for the workers Peter Romer-Friedman of Outten & Golden LLP. “We look forward to working to finalize the settlement.”

The settlement involves a class action lawsuit filed in July 2015 by a former Walmart employee. It was alleged Walmart violated their employees’ civil rights, state employment laws, along with the Equal Pay Act, by not offering health insurance to same-sex spouses before Jan. 1, 2014.

The lawsuit followed the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide (Obergefell v. Hodges).

Specifically, the lawsuit claimed that Walmart violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act when it refused to extend employment-based health insurance benefits to a same sex spouse, even if legally married under Massachusetts law in 2004 and were otherwise eligible to receive coverage.

When the spouse of one of the Plaintiffs, who was uninsured, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012, the couple incurred more than $150,000 in medical debt. In addition to damages, a permanent injunction was sought against Walmart that would prevent it from denying same-sex couples spousal health insurance benefits that are available to other employees.

Under the terms of the Walmart settlement, the $7.5 million will be divided among the few thousand workers who were denied coverage for their same-sex spouses from Jan. 1, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2013.

The payout will be divided among two classes. Long-form plaintiffs are employees who can show out-of-pocket medical expenses for their same-sex spouse during the class period, or that their same-sex spouse was insured by an alternative plan. These Class Members could be eligible to receive the amount they paid if it is less than $60,000, and two-and-a-half times the amount if they paid more than $60,000.

After the long-form plaintiffs are paid, other Walmart employees who cannot show exact expenses can submit short-form claims on pro rata basis.

This group will receive $5,000 per year of the three-year class period that they were employed by Walmart.

The Walmart Same-Sex Spouses’ Benefits Discrimination Class Action Lawsuit is Cote v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Case No. 1:15-cv-12945, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

If you need additional info about this or any other legal matter, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.

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