Dec. 5, 2012
Bruce Carlson is busy — very busy. Since March 15, the Pittsburgh lawyer has filed 19 class action suits against ATM operators on behalf of a Texas woman, Victoria Gilkerson, alleging that machines did not meet new ADA requirements, and another 20 similar cases against ATM operators on behalf of plaintiff Robert Jahoda, a Pennsylvania man.
This week as a change of pace, Carlson filed a pair of class action suits alleging violations of Reg E, the rule in the Electronic Fund Transfer Act that says ATM operators must post a physical notice by or on an ATM informing its users of potential transaction fees.
According to Law 360, the suits filed on Monday in Pennsylvania federal court against Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania and PNC Bank are virtually the same. Neither alleges that notices were absent. Rather, both allege that the fee notices were placed on inconspicuous parts of the machine enclosures, making them hard to see.
This, the suits allege, is a violation of the Reg E stipulation that ATM fee notices must be placed in "a prominent and conspicuous location on or at the machine." According to the Law 360 story, the suits cite the precedent of Brown v. Wells Fargo & Co., which found that similarly hard-to-find surcharge notices violated the "prominent and conspicuous" standard. The plaintiffs seek statutory damages and costs.
Meanwhile S.3944, legislation to kill the fee placard rule sits in limbo in the Senate. A house version passed unanimously earlier this year, but wording added to the Senate version (concerning an entirely unrelated issue) resulted in a hold being placed on the bill. However, it continues to collect co-sponsors. To date, 38 senators have signed on in a show of support for fee placard reform.
For more on this topic, visit the regulatory issues research center.