Jon Campisi Jun. 14, 2012, 1:29pm

A Northeastern Pennsylvania woman has filed a class action lawsuit against a local

banking institution over allegations that the defendant unfairly collected excessive overdraft fees from its customers.

Philadelphia attorney Ruben Honik, of the firm Golomb & Honik, filed the class action suit June 8 at Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas on behalf of Portland, Pa. resident Jennifer Collier and others similarly situated.

The defendants named in the complaint are National Penn Bank, National Penn Bancshares Inc. and KNBT Bancorp Inc.

According to the complaint, Collier first sued National Penn in state court in Philadelphia back in December 2011, after which the bank removed the case to federal court alleging as the basis for federal jurisdiction complete preemption and that the state law claims implicated “significant federal issues.”

Collier subsequently filed a motion to remand, but it was rejected by a U.S. District judge.

The suit states that the district court rejected National Penn’s argument that complete preemption created a basis for federal jurisdiction, but found that Collier’s unconscionability claim turned on whether National Penn adhered to the guidelines established by federal agencies.

After a federal judge denied Collier’s motion to remand the case back to state court, the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed her case without prejudice.

In her latest filing, the suit states, Collier makes clear that she is not asserting any claims that implicate federal issues. All elements of the prior suit that raised federal preemption concerns have been removed, her new suit states.

In her latest complaint, Collier claims that she and other National Penn customers were never made aware that debit card transactions would trigger an overdraft fee.

The customers were also never given the opportunity to cancel such transactions, the suit claims.

Other claims in the suit include allegations that the defendant manipulates transactions so that it can increase the number of overdraft fees it imposes; imposes overdraft fees even when there are sufficient funds in customers’ accounts; fails to provide customers with accurate balance information; delays posting of transactions by customers using debit cards so that customers are charged overdraft fees on transactions, even though they had sufficient funds in their accounts to cover the transactions upon execution; is unjustly enriched through its overdraft policies and practices; and converts money belonging to Plaintiff and other customers through its overdraft polices and practices.

The lawsuit claims that National Penn’s alleged actions violate Pennsylvania consumer protection statutes.

The plaintiff seeks class action certification in the suit given the common factual allegations involving the various customers who experienced the same issues as Collier.

The complaint alleges that even when National Penn has actual knowledge of outstanding transactions that have already created a negative available balance in a customer’s account, it encourages the customer to incur more overdraft charges by approving – rather than prudently declining – subsequent debit card purchases and other electronic transactions.

The suit also claims that the bank assesses overdraft fees at times when actual funds in the customer account are sufficient to cover all debits that have been submitted for payment. It does this by placing a “hold” on actual funds in a customer’s account.

“In doing so, National Penn charges overdraft fees where it faces no risk, because the cash balance in the customer’s account has not dropped below zero,” the lawsuit states. “Thus, National Penn charges overdrafts even when there has been no overdraft as that term is universally understood.”

The complaint claims that National Penn’s overdraft policies and practices are designed to generate substantial revenue for the bank.

The suit contains counts of breach of contract and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, conversion, unjust enrichment, and violations of Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practice Laws.

The plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment that National Penn’s overdraft fee policies and practices are wrong and unfair.

Collier also seeks the awarding of restitution of all overdraft fees paid to the bank by the plaintiff, as well as actual damages, punitive damages and exemplary damages.

Litigation costs, attorney’s fees and pre-judgment interest are also sought.


The case ID number is 120601099. 

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