Judge Says $22.4M Judgment Against Wells Fargo Still Stands

Judge Says $22.4M Judgment Against Wells Fargo Still Stands
Pope County Circuit Court in Russellville, site of cases involving unwanted faxes. (Mark Friedman)

A Pope County judge last week denied Wells Fargo Bank’s request to have a $22.4 million judgment against it thrown out.

Wells Fargo knew about “every aspect of this case from start to finish,” but it didn’t raise an objection until after the final judgment was entered, Pope County Circuit Judge Dennis Sutterfield said in his 12-page order.

He found Wells Fargo’s “request to be without merit and that these arguments and after-the-fact submissions are both untimely and waived.”

If you recall, the financial giant has been caught up in a multimillion-dollar legal strategy involving class-action lawsuits over unwanted faxes.

Sutterfield ruled last year that defendant WestFax Inc. of Centennial, Colorado, had relayed 42,271 faxes that did not meet the specific opt-out requirements of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

WestFax was hit with a $21.1 million class-action judgment in favor of class representative M.S. Wholesale Plumbing Inc. of Russellville, represented by attorneys James Streett of the Streett Law Firm in Russellville and Joe P. Leniski Jr. of Branstetter Stranch & Jennings in Nashville, Tennessee.

Wells Fargo once held accounts be-longing to WestFax and the bank was pulled into the case in April after receiving two writs of garnishments. A bank employee responded to one of the writs by saying WestFax’s account was closed.

But Streett said in court filings that the response didn’t answer his questions.

The judge agreed, which led to a hearing on June 25 to determine the amount of the garnishment. Wells Fargo didn’t appear at that hearing, resulting in the judgment, which included the $21.1 million plus interest.

“The Court does not find any fraud or miscarriage of justice involved in this case whatsoever,” Sutterfield wrote in his order.

He also said “every effort was made to include Wells Fargo and allow it to be heard in the manner and form afforded to every litigant under Arkansas law.”

After the judgment was entered, Wells Fargo hired Kutak Rock and was represented by attorneys Dale Brown, Andrew King and Jess Askew.

Wells Fargo has already filed court papers saying it will appeal.