Philadelphia, PA: If you (individuals, small businesses and agencies) hold a consumer or small business credit card issued by Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citibank, Discover or HSBC, your rights may be affected by the partial settlement of this class action lawsuit.
The lawsuit (called Ross, et al. v. Bank of America, N.A., (USA), No. 05-cv-7116 (S.D.N.Y.)) claims that the settling defendants Bank of America, Capital One, Chase and HSBC and the non-settling defendants Discover, Citibank and National Arbitration Forum, violated federal law by conspiring, with each other and certain non-defendants, to require that their cardholders (a) take all legal disputes to arbitration rather than court and (b) give up any right to participate in class actions against these credit card companies. This case is on behalf of cardholders who are subject to arbitration clauses. Cardholders who are not subject to arbitration clauses, including any Discover cardholders who have opted out of arbitration, are not included in the case.
Arbitration is a type of dispute resolution, where the parties agree that private arbitrators, rather than judges in court, will decide their disputes. Class actions are a type of court proceeding where representative individuals, who must be approved by the court, bring a lawsuit on behalf of a class of similarly situated people or businesses.
This lawsuit alleges that defendants colluded with each other to adopt and invoke arbitration clauses to prevent consumers from enforcing their rights under state and federal law, both individually and in class actions. This lawsuit seeks to change the defendants' conduct with respect to arbitration clauses and class action bans. This lawsuit never sought money damages for cardholders. This lawsuit also seeks plaintiffs' attorneys' fees and reimbursement of their litigation expenses.
All settling defendants and all non-settling defendants deny that they conspired with each other or that they violated any law, and assert that they have done nothing wrong or improper.
The settlement must be approved by the court. It requires that the settling defendants cease enforcing arbitration clauses and class action bans against their consumer and small business credit card cardholders and that they remove arbitration clauses and class action bans from the terms they require of their cardholders for a period of 3-1/2 years. The settlement requires the settling defendants, subject to court review, to pay $2.35 million to defray attorneys' fees and litigation expenses, including the cost of this notice.
If approved, the settlement will bind you. It releases the settling defendants from all liability stemming from the adoption or inclusion of the arbitration clauses and class action bans in the terms they require of their consumer and small business credit card cardholders. The settling defendants are NOT being released from any claim for money damages that may allegedly arise from the invocation or enforcement of their arbitration clauses and class action bans. There is no payment to cardholders in this settlement. This lawsuit seeks only to change the defendants' alleged conduct on arbitration clauses and class action bans. No money damages were or are sought in this case.
The case will remain pending against the three non-settling defendants Citibank, Discover and the National Arbitration Forum. A website, www.arbitration.ccfsettlement.com, has been created to provide information about the lawsuit and the settlements reached with Bank of America, Capital One, Chase and HSBC. This website contains the Complaint, Answers from all of the defendants, the settlement agreements and exhibits, Court Orders and other important documents concerning the settled litigation.