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Wells Fargo Lending Discrimination Class Certification Denied

A federal court rejected the class certification of a large class of Hispanic and black homeowners based on the analysis in the U.S. Supreme Court employment law decision Wal-Mart Stores Inc. v. Dukes. This is only one of the cases that has relied on the important Dukes decision to deny certification to a class of plaintiffs.

In Dukes, the SC denied the class certification of around 1.6 million current and former female employees of Wal-Mart who alleged gender discrimination at Wal-Mart stores throughout the country. The court ruled that the class was too large to fulfill the requirements of the federal certification rules.

The federal court deciding the class certification for In re Wells Fargo relied on Dukes after the defendant challenged the class certification of black and Hispanic homeowners. The case resulted from the consolidation of four class action suits against Wells Fargo alleging discrimination in lending practices. The federal court held that after Dukes, the class of plaintiffs does not fulfill the class certification requirements.

The court held that the plaintiff's lawyers did not fully show that the bank officers making the loan decisions used a "common mode of exercising discretion" against the entire large class of black and Hispanic homeowners who had applied for a loan with Wells Fargo.

As case law evolved based on the Dukes decision, it's likely that courts will continue to alter how they handle large class action suits.

Source: American Lawyer, "In Re Wells Fargo Mortgage Lending Discrimination Litigation," 11/1/2011

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