Wells Fargo says law bars L.A. suit
Federal law precludes the city of Los Angeles from suing Wells Fargo & Co. on behalf of Californians stuck with unwanted accounts and bogus fees, the San Francisco bank argued in its effort to toss out the consumer protection lawsuit the city brought against it.
Laws dating to the National Bank Acts, adopted in 1863 and 1864, mean that banks like Wells Fargo are accountable only to federal regulators, the bank contended in a filing last week in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
“The city’s claims are barred,” the bank said in the court document, denying allegations against it.
Wells Fargo said the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which is the Treasury Department agency that regulates national banks, and other federal agencies have jurisdiction to regulate national banks, “and those agencies have enacted comprehensive regulatory policy governing national banks.”
The comptroller’s office would not comment on whether it would back Wells Fargo’s attempt to have L.A.’s consumer-protection lawsuit tossed out.
The city’s lawsuit, filed last month, alleged that the bank’s sales quotas are so rigid that employees, desperate to meet them, have opened unauthorized accounts and provided other unwanted services for customers, sticking them with bogus fees and damaging their credit.
Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer disputed the claim that the city can’t bring suit. “Of course we have the right to sue Wells Fargo for its alleged misconduct,” he said.
Wells Fargo also filed a motion in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles seeking to have the lawsuit heard in the federal venue.