ILNews

ATM fee disclosure rules and related litigation

Jenny Montgomery
April 25, 2012
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In 2011, nine lawsuits were filed in the United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, in which plaintiffs sued owners or operators of ATMs for failing to post a sign advising users of usage fees. Similar suits have been filed around the country, and groups that represent ATM owners’ interests are calling for a change to federal law to stop further litigation.

The American Bankers Association, the National Association of Convenience Stores and five other national organizations wrote a letter in February to Washington, D.C., lawmakers, saying the lawsuits threaten the economic viability of ATM operators.

In their letter to members of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs and members of the House Committee on Financial Services, the groups advocated eliminating an ATM fee disclosure requirement that they say is no longer necessary due to advances in technology. Under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act and its implementing rule, Regulation E (12 CFR 205.16), all ATMs must have two notices of a usage fee – one on-screen, and one attached to or near the ATM.

Financial industry leaders say that the dual notice may have been necessary before on-screen notices were as easy to read as they are today, but one inherent problem with the requirement for an exterior sign is that stickers or signs can be removed or defaced easily, putting the ATM owner at risk of a lawsuit.

According to Regulation E, when an ATM lacks a sign or placard advising of additional fees, successful class-action plaintiffs are entitled to recover the lesser of $500,000 or one percent of the net worth of the ATM operator, plus attorney fees and costs.

Derek Edwards, of the Tennessee firm Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, has defended clients in more than 100 ATM fee disclosure suits in courts around the country, including a case in Indiana, Lear v. ATM Access, No. 1:2011-CV-01321. He said that many ATM fee disclosure cases are filed against small ATM operators whose machines are housed inside larger businesses. Those cases seem to settle early, with no escalation to class-action status, he said.

Edwards estimates he spends at least half of each day working on defending against fee disclosure lawsuits, but estimating the number of similar cases nationwide is difficult, as many cases are coded improperly when entered in the PACER court records system. Congress may therefore be unaware of how widespread these lawsuits have become, he said.

On April 17, 2012, two members of the House Committee on Financial Services – U.S. Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., and David Scott, D-Ga., – filed H.R. 4367, which would eliminate the dual notice requirement required by EFTA. No further action had occurred on that bill by IL deadline.

An unrelated case that the U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering could affect the ability to recover damages under EFTA. The case – First American Financial Corp., Successor in Interest to The First American Corp., et al., Petitioners v. Denise P. Edwards – presents a question of whether a plaintiff may bring a class-action complaint against a defendant when the plaintiff has not suffered any “injury of fact,” as defined by Article 3, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. Some ATM fee disclosure cases have been dismissed for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted; while others have been successful in earning class-action status.•

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  1. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  2. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  3. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

  4. Dear Fan, let me help you correct the title to your post. "ACLU is [Left] most of the time" will render it accurate. Just google it if you doubt that I am, err, "right" about this: "By the mid-1930s, Roger Nash Baldwin had carved out a well-established reputation as America’s foremost civil libertarian. He was, at the same time, one of the nation’s leading figures in left-of-center circles. Founder and long time director of the American Civil Liberties Union, Baldwin was a firm Popular Fronter who believed that forces on the left side of the political spectrum should unite to ward off the threat posed by right-wing aggressors and to advance progressive causes. Baldwin’s expansive civil liberties perspective, coupled with his determined belief in the need for sweeping socioeconomic change, sometimes resulted in contradictory and controversial pronouncements. That made him something of a lightning rod for those who painted the ACLU with a red brush." http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/biographies/roger-baldwin-2/ "[George Soros underwrites the ACLU' which It supports open borders, has rushed to the defense of suspected terrorists and their abettors, and appointed former New Left terrorist Bernardine Dohrn to its Advisory Board." http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewSubCategory.asp?id=1237 "The creation of non-profit law firms ushered in an era of progressive public interest firms modeled after already established like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ("NAACP") and the American Civil Liberties Union ("ACLU") to advance progressive causes from the environmental protection to consumer advocacy." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cause_lawyering

  5. Mr. Foltz: Your comment that the ACLU is "one of the most wicked and evil organizations in existence today" clearly shows you have no real understanding of what the ACLU does for Americans. The fact that the state is paying out so much in legal fees to the ACLU is clear evidence the ACLU is doing something right, defending all of us from laws that are unconstitutional. The ACLU is the single largest advocacy group for the US Constitution. Every single citizen of the United States owes some level of debt to the ACLU for defending our rights.

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