A leading Charlotte, N.C., attorney thinks so and is advising credit unions and banks they could soon find themselves as legal targets just like the tobacco industry did more than three decades ago as subject to class action suits from state attorneys general.
"Now is the time for credit unions to get in front of this potential danger curve by engaging their attorneys general in productive discussions," urged Frank E. Emory Jr., a partner at Hunton & Williams LLP, a Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Va., law firm specializing in business law.
There are unmistakable signs, said Emory, "that many state attorneys general see the financial services institutions in their jurisdictions as targets for class action cases, much like the tobacco industry in the decade of the 1980s based on the dizzying array of complex structured financial products."
Those products "coupled with complaints by consumers of inability to get new credit will almost certainly subject all financial institutions, even credit unions, to increased scrutiny" by the AGs, said Emory.
Banks and CUs that operate across multiple state lines can be particularly susceptible to scrutiny "by multiple attorneys general," and "this may become the new tobacco."