Pa. ATM Disclosure Case Is Winding Through Courts
Daniela Helkowski, who is suing $590 million Clearview FCU for not properly disclosing a fee at its ATM, said it is too early for the court to decide whether a class action suit is the best approach to the case without hearing the full arguments in favor of the class action determination. Such an argument would convince the court of the merits of the case, maintained Helkowski, who has a long history of consumer complaint class actions.
The credit union filed a motion in response to the May charges in July, arguing that this dispute should not be a class action because it did not meet the legal standard that it was the best approach to resolve the dispute.
The case is unfolding in the U.S. District Court for Western Pennsylvania. While there was no physical notification on the ATM, there was a fee notice on a screen Helkowski had to read before authorizing the transaction.
The Electronic Funds Transfer Act and implementing regulations require both a notification on the ATM screen that a transaction would generate a fee, as well as a notification on the machine itself.
Helkowski argued in her complaint that the matter should be treated as a class action on behalf of other ATM users who had also withdrawn cash without the required notification.
The credit union argued, "A class action under EFTA is not a superior method for resolving fee disclosures violations as a class action offers no perceptible economy over individual actions. The EFTA specifically provides a framework which makes pursuing separate individual claims economically feasible versus bringing the action as a class."
A lawyer for the credit union was not available to comment further.
However, Helkowski argued, "Defendant's motion should be denied for two equally compelling reasons. 1) Defendant's requested relief is procedurally premature, and seeks an improvident departure from well-settled, and well-reasoned, Rule 23 jurisprudence; and, 2) plaintiff's complaint raises paradigmatic consumer class claims, the propriety of which has been routinely recognized and cogently endorsed by Courts within the Third Circuit and throughout the federal judiciary."