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Arbitration clause enforceable for bank overdraft fee disputes.

The 11th Circuit ruled March 1 in Buffington et al. v. SunTrust Banks Inc. that a bank can force its account holders to arbitrate overdraft fee disputes.

In 2009, two SunTrust account holders filed a class action lawsuit against the bank, claiming it charged them excessive overdraft fees. SunTrust argued that a clause in the plaintiffs' contracts required them to resolve their disputes individually through arbitration. The clause also required customers to pay SunTrust's legal fees if the company wins in arbitration.

In 2010, a district court denied SunTrust's motion to compel arbitration, finding the arbitration clause to be unreasonable because it contained a class action waiver. But in September 2011, the 11th Circuit vacated the ruling and remanded it in light of the Supreme Court's April 2011 decision in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, which found arbitration clauses to be enforceable.

The district court again denied SunTrust's motion to compel arbitration, this time finding that the bank's arbitration policy was unfair because it placed a higher risk on the plaintiffs. But the 11th Circuit reversed and remanded, saying that inequality in bargaining power doesn't invalidate an arbitration agreement.

Alabama, Florida, Georgia
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Title Annotation:11TH CIRCUIT
Author:Post, Ashley
Date:May 1, 2012
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