Leahy, Franken & Leading Democratic Senators Again Call On Wells Fargo To End Use Of Forced Arbitration So That Consumers Can Seek Justice In Court

WASHINGTON (Wednesday, December 7, 2016) – Democratic Senators led by Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Banking Committee Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) are again pressing Wells Fargo to end the use of forced arbitration clauses and allow customers whose names were used to open fraudulent accounts to seek justice in court. 

The Senators reiterated their call after Wells Fargo refused to commit to end its use of forced arbitration in customer service agreements in a letter sent to lawmakers last week.  Wells Fargo has used these clauses to deny customers access to the court system to challenge the creation of sham accounts by the financial institution.  In fact, Wells Fargo asked a federal court in Utah to move a number of new sham account allegations to arbitration.

“We are shocked and appalled by this latest attempt to stack the deck against the victims of the bank’s fraudulent scheme and your continued unwillingness to allow victims of this scheme to fully exercise their rights,” the Senators wrote in a letter to CEO Timothy Sloan.  In addition to Leahy and Brown, the letter was signed by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

They added:  “Wells Fargo’s demand to deny defrauded customers their fundamental rights demonstrates your complete failure to understand the gravity of the company’s actions and an utter unwillingness, despite promises to the contrary, to actually put your customers first.  Forced arbitration denies Americans their constitutional right to seek justice in a court of law and shields companies from accountability – both from the courts and the public eye.  We will not simply trust you to get this right as long as your actions continue to belie your words.  We will not forget that your company has harmed millions of Americans.  We will continue to watch closely and hold you accountable at every misstep.  We strongly urge you to reconsider your use of forced arbitration.”

The Senators first wrote to Wells Fargo in September urging the company to reject forced arbitration clauses.  In addition, the Senators have been leading legislative efforts to rein in the harm cause by forced arbitration agreements, including the  Justice for Victims of Fraud Act of 2016 introduced last week by Senator Brown and others to prohibit the use of forced arbitration to resolve disputes over unauthorized credit card or other bank accounts, Senator Leahy’s  Restoring Statutory Rights Act to ensure that state and federal laws protecting victims are not undermined by arbitration, and Senator Franken’s Arbitration Fairness Act to eliminate mandatory arbitration clauses in employment, consumer, civil rights, and antitrust cases.

A copy of the December 7 letter to Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan is online and below. 

A copy of the September 23 letter to former Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf is online, and a copy of the company’s response to that letter is also online


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