Former Pine Bluff alderman Jack Foster has filed a class action lawsuit against Simmons First National Corp. alleging unfair, deceptive and unconscionable collection and assessment of excessive overdraft fees. The lawsuit was filed in the civil division of the Jefferson County Circuit Court on Dec. 6.
Simmons Chairman and CEO J. Thomas May, when asked for comment on the lawsuit, said that Foster’s allegations are baseless.
“We are aware of the filing of these claims,” May said. “While it is our policy not to discuss any ongoing litigation, the subject of this litigation is completely without merit. We are in compliance with all relevant regulations and requirements and we will be asserting a vigorous defense against these baseless allegations.”
In the lawsuit, Foster asks for monetary damages for the alleged wrongful charging of multiple overdraft fees in connection with the use of his Simmons debit card and claims that he is the representative member of a class of people that includes all others who have been charged overdraft fees in the same manner.
Foster alleges that Simmons manipulates and reorders debits from highest to lowest during the course of a day so that funds in a customer’s account are depleted more rapidly and more overdraft fees are likely to be charged for multiple smaller transactions.
Foster alleges that Simmons has a practice where account charges and debits are posted to its customers’ accounts out of chronological order for the purpose of maximizing the number of overdraft transactions, and therefore, the amount of overdraft fees charged to its customers.
In the lawsuit Foster claims that Simmons has not followed the list of best practices with respect to overdraft programs set forth in the “Joint Guidance on Overdraft Protection Programs” issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the National Credit Union Administration.
Foster has retained attorney Angela R. Echols of Hot Springs to represent him in the lawsuit.