A Classless Action

A massive consumer lawsuit against U.S. Bank ends in nickels and dimes for the plaintiffs, but big checks for attorneys

"The judge praised U.S. Bank for being a good member of the community, and he made gratuitous public remarks about the plaintiffs' attorneys," Knoll continues. "Every lawyer should do pro bono work, and this has been my little contribution to uphold the law. The process is cynical, and that bothers me."

As far as gripes about lawyers' fees, Cambronne shrugs them off by saying that it's a common complaint in class-action suits. "People say, 'I don't want to pay attorneys out of the pot,' but then they don't want to pay money themselves," he goes on, saying that any class member had the right to pursue the case individually. "If you don't want to pay a reasonable fee for a lawyer, then you oughtn't have one."

Lorence calls Cambronne's logic flawed. "There's not enough money individually for anyone to hire and retain an attorney," he points out. "My claim would be at $4,000, but I'd have to pay a percentage to an attorney, and no attorney would take on a case for that amount of money. This way, the consumer is totally left out in the cold."

Bill Lorence says it cost him $4,000 to restore his privacy after U.S. Bank sold his personal and financial data
Tony Nelson
Bill Lorence says it cost him $4,000 to restore his privacy after U.S. Bank sold his personal and financial data

In financial terms, Lorence continues, his involvement with the case has not been worthwhile. "On the surface, you look this over and say it looks pretty good, that there's a class action, but you read the detail and see how much the lawyers get," he says. "There's no money in this case for anybody but them. I've got more tied up in parking fees to fight this than I will get from the bank."

In the end, he stayed involved with the suit on principle. "I wanted to have my day in court and air my opinion, because it had been ignored by U. S. Bank."

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