Cook County Record

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Bank of America, others prevail in class-action suit over consumer privacy

By Elizabeth Alt | Oct 12, 2017


CHICAGO — A federal judge in Illinois has ruled that Bank of America and other banks were not in violation of consumer privacy acts and dismissed a class-action suit accusing the bank of improperly distributing the confidential information of homeowners who had borrowed mortgage loans.

U.S. District Judge Charles P. Kocoras ruled on Sept. 25 in Chicago federal court the plaintiffs’ allegations against Bank of America and other defendants were too generalized, with no allegation tied to a specific plaintiff or defendant.

In June 2016, plaintiff Sonya Davis, along with 38 others, sued Bank of America, JP Chase Morgan, Bear Sterns, Deutsch Bank National Trust Company, Wells Fargo, EMC Mortgage Corporation LLC, HSBC, Quicken Loans, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc. and MERSCORP Holdings Inc.

The plaintiffs alleged the defendants illegally distributed their private and confidential information, obtained through servicing the plaintiffs’ mortgages. The complaint alleged unjust enrichment and violations of several laws. 

The district court dismissed the original complaint without prejudice, and encouraged the plaintiffs to seek an attorney. The plaintiffs then filed a second amended complaint, which was also dismissed. They then filed a third amended complaint.

Davis and the other plaintiffs alleged throughout that the defendants negligently violated the statute by failing to adopt and maintain procedures designed to protect and limit the dissemination of their private and confidential information. 

Kocoras pointed out in his decision the plaintiffs needed to allege specific violations and clarify which defendant each plaintiff was suing and why. He dismissed the claim for failing to allege specifics. 

"The [third amended complaint], like its predecessor, contains page after page of generalized recriminations, but no allegations tethered to any plaintiff of defendant," he said in the decision.

Kocoras also agreed with the defendants' argument that they could not be sued for unjust enrichment because each plaintiff was a mortgagor, and "a mortgagor cannot sue his lender for unjust enrichment in connection with his mortgage because a mortgage contract covers the relationship of the parties."

The plaintiffs represented themselves in the action, for much of the proceedings. However, from the fall of 2016 to June 2017, court records indicate they had been represented by attorneys from The Rice Firm LLC, of Birmingham, Ala., and Arthur D. Sutton & Associates, of suburban Matteson.

Defendants were represented by attorneys with the firms of Mayer Brown LLP, of Chicago; Locke Lord LLP, of Chicago; Bryan Cave LLP, of Chicago; K&L Gates LLP, of Chicago and Boston; Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, of Chicago;  and Pilgrim Christakis LLP, of Chicago. 

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Organizations in this Story

Morgan, Lewis and Bockius LLPK & L GatesHSBCLocke Lord LLPPilgrim Christakis LLPU.S. District Court for the Northern District of IllinoisBank of AmericaBryan Cave LLPMayer BrownJ.P. Morgan ChaseWells Fargo & Company