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Suing Wells Fargo in small claims in CA (Update)

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The original post is archived ( https://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/1548439 )but I wanted to provide an update.

Court date is scheduled for 6/27 and I just received a call from Wells Fargo wanting to settle. I was asking for $3803 + filing fees and they said they were authorized to settle for $2500.

I told them it needs to be the entire thing plus filing fees and that I have a slam dunk case, have wasted a bunch of my time, and the courthouse is right next to my office and I walk to work every day so it's very little effort on my part.

She said she could do the full $3803 and I told her $3900 should cover the fees. She's going to get back to me today.

I gave them every opportunity beforehand to solve this so at a minimum I'm getting my damned filing fees. Otherwise I'm going to try and figure out if there is anything else the judge will let me tack on in court.

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Ask mods to delete this thread. Keeping it here isn't worth losing $3900.

Anyone who wanted to mnwo what happens already ... (more)

Stubtify (Jun. 22, 2017 @ 5:05p) |

As much as they would like to, they cannot go back in time.  They cannot ask you preemptively to do something, so it's o... (more)

Rubl (Jun. 23, 2017 @ 9:17a) |

The confidentiality agreement should only be from the date you sign and forward. Like what Rubl said.

Jstic (Jun. 24, 2017 @ 8:39a) |

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https://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/1548439
in your OP, the ) got tagged on to the link and I get a 404

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imbatman said:   https://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/1548439
in your OP, the ) got tagged on to the link and I get a 404

  FW editor strikes again. I fixed it, thx for heads up!

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The little guy wins (for once)!

Congrats.

Let's hope you don't have five bank accounts opened in your name tomorrow.

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Awesome, thanks for the update.

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Well done.

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I was disappointed to read the original thread and see that the lawsuit was about an improperly paid flood insurance premium, and not a case related to forfeited credit card rewards points.

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Good for you...banks are the robbers of America

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Nothing to add but thanks for fighting the good fight.

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So did she get back to you?

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Ha ha check how she tried bargaining for 2500 And then rolled back to 3803. Good job

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Good luck!

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Surprisingly she didn't get back to me? But yes within literally seconds when I said "I have a slam dunk case and the courthouse is right next to me" she said she could do the full $3803.

When I said I wanted filing fees, she said "Well I don't see those listed anywhere in the claim" with a bit of an attitude, to which I replied, "It says specifically in the small claims document not to write in filing fees as those will automatically be included. Then she has to get back to me.

I really don't care if it takes a bunch of my time is what she doesn't get. On a separate note...the same day (today) I also lost 2 parking tickets I was fighting. So win some, you lose some.

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Hopefully the parking tickets are smaller.

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I can appreciate the firm ground you're holding on principle, but I'd have taken the $3800 and put it to rest. :0

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If you truly have a "slam dunk" case, don't settle. Let WF lose in court (i.e. be found guilty). Hopefully they'll not only have to pay you for damages + court costs but also lost work wages (for having to take time off from work for appearing in court). You may have to amend your filing to obtain your lost work wages though.

Winning your case (and receiving the payout) will be far more impactful (to their reputation) than just receiving the payout, even though they already have a rather tarnished reputation from their bogus account opening scandal.

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Can you ask for punitive damages in a small claims case?

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Either way OP, I take it your limited to the typical small claims limit of $5k max?

Either way, congrats. Please make them bend over and give them what they normally give to all their typical customers.

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Stick it to the man

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justignoredem said:   Either way OP, I take it your limited to the typical small claims limit of $5k max?
 

  
OP is in CA, which has a $10k limit.

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I was under the understanding that I could not sue for lost wages or anything because in principal WF could be innocent and has the right to defend themselves in court. If anyone wiser than myself knows for sure though I'd be thrilled to add on lost wages.

Regarding punitive damages...I'd love those too, but what could I request them for?

One thing...if I lost I wonder if I could be at risk of paying their attorney's fees from small claims? I hadn't thought of that but I'm not too concerned.

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I've never done anything small claims, etc... so this may be a naļve question, but can you ask for interest on the amount that you are suing for?

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trekwars2000 said:   I've never done anything small claims, etc... so this may be a naļve question, but can you ask for interest on the amount that you are suing for?
I believe you can request interest after the judgement has been awarded. Until that time however, it's not proven that they owe you money.

It could be allowed though perhaps after you send the demand letter? I don't know for sure.
 

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If they make you an offer of your $$$ + court costs take the money and run.

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Stubtify said:   If they make you an offer of your $$$ + court costs take the money and run.
  They're arguing over $97 at this point.  I'd take it.

FYI - generally time off work, etc is an "unrecoverable" cost... 

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Al3xK said:   One thing...if I lost I wonder if I could be at risk of paying their attorney's fees from small claims? I hadn't thought of that but I'm not too concerned.

I have friends who finally ended a civil suit last year - different jurisdiction than yours too. If I understood correctly, they had offered a pretrial settlement that was rejected, but the ruling for the other party awarded a (much) smaller amount. Because of this, the other party was held responsible for their legal fees. So he won a small award - an amount so small that it was kind of a rebuke in itself - but the net result was that he had to pay many thousands to cover my friends' legal costs. They "lost" but it only cost their time and a token amount. The idea seems to be to encourage good-faith settlement negotiation and discourage wasting the court's time to prove a point or something if you've been offered a fair settlement.

I have no idea if this might apply in your case, but I would think WF attorneys would point it out if you still wind up in court after they offered to settle for your claimed damages.

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SlimTim said:   
Al3xK said:   One thing...if I lost I wonder if I could be at risk of paying their attorney's fees from small claims? I hadn't thought of that but I'm not too concerned.

I have friends who finally ended a civil suit last year - different jurisdiction than yours too. If I understood correctly, they had offered a pretrial settlement that was rejected, but the ruling for the other party awarded a (much) smaller amount. Because of this, the other party was held responsible for their legal fees. So he won a small award - an amount so small that it was kind of a rebuke in itself - but the net result was that he had to pay many thousands to cover my friends' legal costs. They "lost" but it only cost their time and a token amount. The idea seems to be to encourage good-faith settlement negotiation and discourage wasting the court's time to prove a point or something if you've been offered a fair settlement.

I have no idea if this might apply in your case, but I would think WF attorneys would point it out if you still wind up in court after they offered to settle for your claimed damages.

  
Interesting. I don't think a judge would think I was unreasonable insisting on filing fees as those fees alone were required to make WF want to settle. I'd be more worried about some technical angle that I get lawyer'd and somehow lose and they say "We spent $10k defending this" then I'd have to get a real attorney etc.

I'm just waiting to see what they say now. She asked for my email and said she'd email me back so that's probably the reason for the delay.

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You'll also probably want to delete this thread before you sign be inevitable NDA as part of the settlement.

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He doesn't have to sign any NDA, and it probably will not be a condition of settlement. He has already shared all the details, so NDA would be pointless.

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The point of small claims is supposedly to make things simple. It is my understanding that with limited exceptions both sides pay their own attorney fees. (I would imagine a baseless lawsuit would be an exception.)  This could vary by jurisdiction, court level, and circumstance.

Based on the example from the poster above, I would take the amount sued for unless you are absolutely certain that small claims allows filing fees to be awarded. Otherwise you are rejecting a perfectly reasonable settlement.

 http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/attorney-fees-does-losing... 

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videogamesaremylife said:   The point of small claims is supposedly to make things simple. It is my understanding that with limited exceptions both sides pay their own attorney fees. (I would imagine a baseless lawsuit would be an exception.)  This could vary by jurisdiction, court level, and circumstance.

Based on the example from the poster above, I would take the amount sued for unless you are absolutely certain that small claims allows filing fees to be awarded. Otherwise you are rejecting a perfectly reasonable settlement.

 http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/attorney-fees-does-losing...

  
Glad you said that and I just checked. In San Diego, CA, where I'm at, they will award filing fees, reasonable costs to serve the other party, and reasonable costs for an investigator to locate the other party for the purposes of service of process. So I feel good that I was right demanding the additional fees.

http://www.sdcourt.ca.gov/portal/page?_pageid=55,1424410&_dad=po...  (Bullet #9)

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videogamesaremylife said:   I would take the amount sued for unless you are absolutely certain that small claims allows filing fees to be awarded

I'd take the amount because I have issues with the way the stop payment was done. It sounds like it was verbal. Verbal stop payments are only good for two weeks under the uniform commercial code.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/ucc/4/4-403

(b) A stop-payment order is effective for six months, but it lapses after 14 calendar days if the original order was oral and was not confirmed in a record within that period. A stop-payment order may be renewed for additional six-month periods by a record given to the bank within a period during which the stop-payment order is effective

There's nothing in the law that says that the bank has to tell you that verbal stop payments expire. I think you're just supposed to know it because it's in most checking account agreements. While this was an escrow, I'd hate for you to have the rules thrown at you. Please take the money before they change their mind.
  

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Yes varies by doveroftke said:   
justignoredem said:   Either way OP, I take it your limited to the typical small claims limit of $5k max?
  
OP is in CA, which has a $10k limit.

  Yes seems to vary by state
I thought it was 1500 but seems it was upped to $5K in my state in 2012

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Suing in small claims in CA is great for the little guy. The big guys aren't allowed to use lawyers. They have to file a removal to either state or federal court which is unlikely to succeed. If you're well prepared you should win.

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Rcracer2017 said:   Suing in small claims in CA is great for the little guy. The big guys aren't allowed to use lawyers. They have to file a removal to either state or federal court which is unlikely to succeed. If you're well prepared you should win.
  
I was always under the impression that you essentially can't file suit typically because of arbitration clauses that are in everything these days.... That true, or have I been misunderstanding it all these years?

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Strategically, in this negotiation, they are letting you twist, squirm, rot, and sweat a little right now by not answering your recent settlement request.

However, rest assured, they will give it all to you the day before the scheduled court hearing!

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justignoredem said:   
Rcracer2017 said:   Suing in small claims in CA is great for the little guy. The big guys aren't allowed to use lawyers. They have to file a removal to either state or federal court which is unlikely to succeed. If you're well prepared you should win.
  
I was always under the impression that you essentially can't file suit typically because of arbitration clauses that are in everything these days.... That true, or have I been misunderstanding it all these years?


You can always file a suit. A binding arbitration clause might be grounds to dismiss the suit, but the defendant has to make that argument. So the defendant has to be willing to spend a bit of money (or time, but that's pretty much the same thing) to deal with the suit. It might be worth it to them to just settle for the full amount, anyway.

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markb1024 said:   justignoredem said:   Rcracer2017 said:   Suing in small claims in CA is great for the little guy. The big guys aren't allowed to use lawyers. They have to file a removal to either state or federal court which is unlikely to succeed. If you're well prepared you should win.I was always under the impression that you essentially can't file suit typically because of arbitration clauses that are in everything these days.... That true, or have I been misunderstanding it all these years?You can always file a suit. A binding arbitration clause might be grounds to dismiss the suit, but the defendant has to make that argument. So the defendant has to be willing to spend a bit of money (or time, but that's pretty much the same thing) to deal with the suit. It might be worth it to them to just settle for the full amount, anyway.AFAIK, arbitration agreement does not preclude small claims. This is true even if the agreement doesn't specifically mention it, although most should mention it by now.

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justignoredem said:   
Rcracer2017 said:   Suing in small claims in CA is great for the little guy. The big guys aren't allowed to use lawyers. They have to file a removal to either state or federal court which is unlikely to succeed. If you're well prepared you should win.
  
I was always under the impression that you essentially can't file suit typically because of arbitration clauses that are in everything these days.... That true, or have I been misunderstanding it all these years?


Everyone talks about binding arbitration, but I read through all of my documents and didn't find binding arbitration mentioned at all. My loan was originally "packaged" by some broker and then sold to WF. At no point have I seen anything about binding arbitration. I'm thinking it could be more rare than people think.

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The confidentiality agreement should only be from the date you sign and forward. Like what Rubl said.

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