Gigging Sharks For Christmas

Gigging Sharks For Christmas

As a client alert issued by the law firm bearing my favorite acronym (MoFo) put it so well, last week “Congress gave banks and other ATM operators an early holiday present.”

On December 11, the Senate unanimously passed S. 3204, which eliminates the external fee notice requirement in the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1693, et seq. (“EFTA”). The House passed an identical bill, H. 4367, last July. The President is expected to sign the measure into law.

I’m not sure which holiday they were discussing, but I assume it was either Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa. I doubt MoFo celebrates Festivus.

Once the law goes into effect, ATM operators will be required to give only the on-screen notice of transaction fees. The additional external notice that’s currently required will go the way of the TAG.

As MoFo notes, this law will do away with the plethora of “frivolous lawsuits” that bottom-feeders and their shark enablers have been using to squeeze settlements out of banks and credit unions whose only offense was, in many cases, not having the external signs booby-trapped with claymore mines to discourage “unknown perpetrators” from stealing them shortly before plaintiffs’ lawyers photographed the absence of signage and used that absence as the basis of a lawsuit on behalf of plaintiffs who used the ATM shortly after the external signs disappeared. Sure, some of those plaintiffs gave us an occasional cause to grin, but, for the most part, they were as welcome as would be Charlie Sheen as the keynote speaker at the Sisters of Charity Federation annual convention.

Unfortunately, there remains plenty of ATM-related chum to attack the predators. The ADA, for example. Where there’s a financial remedy tied to a solvent defendant, the plaintiffs’ bar will always find the basis for a claim, no matter how far into the ionosphere they have to travel to find it.

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