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Settlement agreement reached in class action lawsuit against ANZ bank

ANZ Bank logo

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A settlement agreement has been reached in the federal lawsuit filed by three local residents against ANZ Guam, Inc. — based in the US territory of Guam — and its local subsidiary, ANZ Amerika Samoa Bank on behalf of certain homeowners with residential mortgages with ANZ.

The class action complaint was filed Mar. 21, 2018 at the federal court in Guam by Ronald Parker, Fa’afetai Parker, and Tualagi Gaoteote. Plaintiffs allege that ANZ fails to provide homeowners with accurate periodic statements, fails to provide adequate notice when it changes the interest rates on adjustable rate mortgages, and charges excessive late fees.

In a joint motion filed last week Thursday, parties — through their respective attorneys — informed US District Court Chief Judge Frances M. Tydingco-Gatewood that they “have now reached an agreement to settle this class action” lawsuit.

The motion explained that the parties have negotiated the terms of a Settlement Agreement, which has been signed by most of the parties and the remaining parties are expected to sign it within the next few days.

Upon full execution, a copy of the Settlement Agreement and the Exhibits thereto will be promptly filed with the court.

 According to the motion, the settlement agreement includes a provision for a stay of all proceedings in the lawsuit, except those necessary to implement the Settlement or to comply with the terms of the Settlement Agreement pending the Final Approval Hearing.

It also says that the plaintiffs anticipate filing a Motion for Preliminary Approval of the Settlement with supporting papers on or before the end of next month. The parties also requested that the court stay action on this case, pending preliminary and final approval hearings on the settlement.

Plaintiffs’ complaint against ANZ includes five counts: violation of the Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”) (counts I & II), breach of contract (count III), unjust enrichment (count IV), and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing (count V).

Early last year, ANZ filed a partial motion to dismiss certain claims and to strike certain allegations in the complaint on June 8, 2018, arguing that the claims for violation of TILA are time barred, and that class allegations should be struck from the Complaint.

The court issued an order denying ANZ’s motion to dismiss Claims and to Strike Allegations, but holding that any TILA violation occurring more than one year before the filing of the Complaint was time barred and ruling that the challenge to class allegations could be dealt with at the class certification stage. There were motions and replies filed later.

Then last month, ANZ filed a new motion asking the court for an order granting summary judgment on Counts I and a portion of Count V of the complaint, the Class Action suit.

ANZ argued among other things that under TILA and Regulation Z, “small servicers” are exempt from the periodic statement requirements. As a matter of law, ANZ is a “small servicer”. ANZ argued that it was not required to provide periodic statements under TILA and of Regulation Z.

According to the defendants, there are no genuine issues of fact in dispute, which could support plaintiffs’ claims against ANZ on Count I and the portion of Count V alleging ANZ’s failure to provide periodic statements, and ANZ is entitled to summary judgment on these counts.