Ninth Circuit Rules That The National Bank Act Preempts California's Unfair Competition Law

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On March 9, 2010, the Ninth Circuit held that the National Bank Act ("NBA") preempts claims of "unfair" and "fraudulent" conduct in violation of state law. See Martinez v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc., No. 07-17277 (9th Cir. March 9, 2010).

In Martinez, the plaintiffs alleged that Wells Fargo "unfairly" overcharged underwriting fees and tax service fees and "fraudulently" failed to disclose the "actual costs" of its services in connection with plaintiffs' refinance of their home mortgage loan. The plaintiffs brought a nationwide class action on behalf of "similarly situated home mortgage borrowers" against Wells Fargo for the violation of California's Unfair Competition Law ("UCL"), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17200, et seq. and Section 8(b) of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act ("RESPA"), 12 U.S.C. § 2607(b). The district court dismissed the action and the Ninth Circuit affirmed.

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