A U.S. district judge on Thursday suggested he will sign off on a $142 million deal that would settle class-action lawsuits against Wells Fargo & Co. over unauthorized accounts, as long as the agreement is amended.
Those changes could include sending settlement notices to more customers, allowing customers suing the bank over other matters to continue their cases and giving the judge more oversight of how settlement payments will be made.
Still, Judge Vince Chhabria, in a hearing in San Francisco, said that new information may emerge that could lead him to later scrap the deal.
It’s possible that “the record will develop in a way that uncovers problems with the settlement,” said Chhabria, adding the case is “such an unusual situation, and such a complicated settlement.”
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If Chhabria approves the deal announced last month, he would do so over the objections of some attorneys who have filed a handful of class-action cases against the bank over the unauthorized accounts scandal.
The settlement was negotiated by the bank and the attorneys behind one 2015 case filed against the bank in Chhabria’s court.
Attorneys behind 10 other federal and state cases have said the deal is too small. In some of those cases, attorneys have brought identity theft claims against the bank – claims that are not addressed in the settlement and that the attorneys say could result in bigger payouts.
Chhabria indicated he would approve the deal over those objections but also said he plans to allow the other cases to proceed. The proposed settlement agreement had asked Chhabria to put the other cases on hold pending its final approval.