Lawsuit accuses Bank of the Ozarks of charging excessive fees

Richmond Rd. Bank of Ozarks Texarkana

A class action lawsuit filed March 31 in Miller County circuit court accuses Bank of the Ozarks of charging multiple fees to customers when a payment is returned for insufficient funds.

Shayla White of Texarkana, Ark., is represented in the suit by Little Rock attorney Chris Jennings. The complaint seeks certification as a class action to represent all Bank of the Ozarks account holders in Arkansas who have been charged more than one $35 fee for a single item returned for insufficient funds. Bank of the Ozarks is based in Little Rock.

“Bank OZK breaches its Deposit Agreement with its accountholders by charging more than one $35 NSF Fee on the same item, since the contract explicitly states—and reasonable consumers understand—that the same item can only incur a single NSF or OD Fee. Bank OZK’s abusive practices are not standard within the financial services industry. Indeed, major banks like JP Morgan Chase—the largest consumer bank in the country—charge one NSF Fee per item, even if that item is resubmitted for payment multiple times. And while some other banks engage in the same practices as Bank OZK, they clearly disclose those charges in the deposit agreements with their customers,” the complaint states.
White alleges she was charged three $35 fees after she tried to pay an $88.53 item on Dec. 17, 2019. White alleges she was charged an initial $35 when the item was returned for insufficient funds that day and two additional $35 fees when the same item was processed again on Dec. 19 and Dec. 23. In total, White claims she was charged $105 for the single $88.53 item.

“Plaintiff understood the payment to be a single item as is laid out in Bank OZK’s contract, capable at most of receiving a single NSF Fee (if Bank OZK returned it) or a single OD Fee (if Bank OZK paid it). The same pattern occurred on December 12, 17, and 20, 2019 with respect to a different transaction, and plaintiff was charged $105 in NSF fees on that transaction too,” the complaint states.

White’s complaint refers to other banks which don’t charge multiple fees, like JP Morgan Chase, and refers to banks which clearly warn customers in account contracts that multiple fees could result from a single item if it is submitted for payment multiple times.

The suit accuses Bank of the Ozarks of breach of contract “including the covenant of good faith and fair dealing” on behalf of White and the potential class members. The complaint alleges unjust enrichment and conversion on behalf of White and the class and of violating the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act on behalf of White.

The complaint is requesting damages on behalf of White and the class members including actual damages, punitive damages, restitution, attorney fees and seeks an injunction which would prohibit the bank from engaging in the practice in the future.

Bank of the Ozarks has not filed a response to the complaint. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Brent Haltom, Division Two of Eighth Judicial District South.

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