TEXARKANA, Ark. — A class-action lawsuit filed in Miller County circuit court last week accuses Little Rock-based Bank of the Ozarks of charging customers multiple fees for insufficient funds or overdrafts on single transactions.
The named plaintiff in the case, Shayla White of Texarkana, Ark., claims Ozarks charged her three $35 fees for a single transaction she made for $88.53 in December when she didn't have enough in her account to cover it. According to the complaint, Ozarks charged the first $35 fee when the $88.53 item was rejected by the bank for lack of funds.
A representative from the Bank of the Ozarks could not be reached for comment Friday.
White agrees Ozarks was justified in charging her the NSF fee Dec. 17 when the item was submitted as her account agreement states that such a fee will be charged for insufficient funds and/or overdrafts. Without White's knowledge, the bank attempted to process the same $88.53 item Dec. 19 and Dec. 23 and charged her additional $35 fees each time.
White was charged a total of $105 in fees for one $88.53 item.
According to the complaint filed on White's behalf by Little Rock lawyer Chris Jennings, charging multiple fees for a single item violates the bank's own policy.
"For an item charged an 'overdraft fee' and thus paid into overdraft, there is no chance it can be subject to reprocessing and thus no chance it could be subject to a second or third fee, since it has already been paid. No reasonable contract reading could allow the other fee mentioned in the disclosure — the NSF Fee — to be treated so differently and assessed two or three times on the same item," the complaint states.
The complaint argues that Ozarks' account agreements don't state that additional fees will be charged if an item is submitted more than once. To illustrate the point, the complaint includes language from other banks which do warn account holders that they could be charged multiple fees for a single transaction if submitted more than once when there is not enough money in an account.
The complaint seeks to include as plaintiffs any Bank of the Ozarks account holder who has been charged multiple fees for a single item.
The complaint accuses the bank of breach of contract, unjust enrichment and conversion on behalf of White and the potential class members. The bank is accused of violating the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act in its dealings with White.
The complaint seeks certification as a class action, actual damages, punitive damages, restitution and an injunction preventing the bank from engaging in the same conduct in the future. The bank has not yet filed a response to the complaint.
The case has been assigned to Miller County Circuit Judge Brent Haltom.