January 3, 2016
Authored by: Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner
Byran Cave filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Georgia Bankers Association and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce in the Bickerstaff v. SunTrust Bank litigation currently pending before the Georgia Supreme Court in which a bank customer seeks to certify a class action against SunTrust to challenge the propriety of certain overdraft charges.
The trial court below ruled that while the plaintiff could opt out of an arbitration clause in the deposit agreement with SunTrust to pursue such challenges in his own right, the plaintiff could not do so on behalf of a class. The Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court ruling that “the deposit agreement contract and its arbitration clause prohibit [plaintiff] from altering others’ contracts where he is neither a party nor in privity with a party.” The plaintiff in the case then petitioned the Georgia Supreme Court to grant certiorari in the case. Certiorari was granted in September to resolve the issue.
Bryan Cave was thereafter retained by both the Georgia Banker’s Association and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce to weigh in and support the fundamental proposition that the deposit agreements should be honored by the courts and that strangers, such as the plaintiff, should not be permitted to interfere with such contracts under the guise of the class action rules. Bill Custer and Jen Dempsey of Bryan Cave, along with former Supreme Court Justices George Carley and Hardy Gregory appeared as counsel on behalf of the GBA and Chamber as amici. The case has now been fully briefed and oral arguments are set for January 4, 2016.