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Wells Fargo Customers Can Proceed with Lawsuit

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A federal judge in San Francisco ruled that a class of Wells Fargo customers claiming the bank calculates withdrawals to maximize the amount of overdraft fees it can collect can proceed with its action.

In denying Wells Fargo summary judgment to dismiss, U.S. District Judge William Alsup wrote, "While defendant's reply brief repeatedly harps on plaintiffs' 'failure to set forth specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial,' this argument presupposes that Wells Fargo has met its burden on summary judgment. Indeed, this it has not done."

Wells Fargo attacked the class' method of calculating its damages, which "sought to extrapolate 43 months of class-wide damages - amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars - based upon an analysis of a single month of transaction data for Wells Fargo customers in California."

Wells Fargo maintained that the class' study of how the bank posted transactions to determine damages was imperfect, since there was no way the bank could post debit card transactions in perfect chronological order.

Alsup agreed with the bank's assertion that the class' method for calculating its damages by sequencing the transactions from the smallest to the highest dollar amount was inadequate, but found the class' two other alternative methods acceptable.

In rejecting the lowest-to-highest method, Alsup found the ordering "didn't even attempt" to chronologically list the disputed transactions.

While Alsup said both sides conceded that the study did not allow for perfect chronological ordering of transactions, the class' alternative methods came close enough to be admissible since "they are grounded on the premise that debit-card transactions should have been posted chronologically."

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