Supreme Court Passes on Appeals of Overdraft Litigation Decisions

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On October 9, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petitions for writ of certiorari filed by plaintiffs in two cases challenging the overdraft billing practices of certain banks. Hough v. Regions Financial Corp., No. 12-1139, 2012 WL 3097294 (Oct. 9, 2012); Buffington v. SunTrust Banks, Inc., No. 12-146, 2012 WL 3134482 (Oct. 9, 2012). In March, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued two separate, but substantively similar, opinions regarding arbitration agreements at issue in the overdraft litigation. Hough v. Regions Financial Corp., No. 11-14317, 2012 WL 686311 (11th Cir. Mar. 5, 2012); Buffington v. SunTrust Banks, Inc., No. 11-14316, 2012 WL 660974 (11th Cir. Mar. 1, 2012). In both cases, based on the Supreme Court’s holding in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, 131 S. Ct. 1740 (2011), the Eleventh Circuit vacated district court rulings that the banks’ arbitration clauses were substantively unconscionable under Georgia law because they contained a class action waiver. After further proceedings on remand yielded a second appeal, the Eleventh Circuit held that, under Georgia law, an agreement is not unconscionable because it lacks mutuality of remedy. It also rejected the district court’s holding that the clauses were procedurally unconscionable because the contract did not meet the Georgia standard that an agreement must be so one-sided that “’no sane man not acting under a delusion would make [it] and … no honest man would’ participate in the transaction.” The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to review the Eleventh Circuit decisions will now require the plaintiffs to arbitrate their claims against the banks.