Frequently Asked Questions
- Why did I get a Notice?
- What is this lawsuit about?
- What is a class action lawsuit?
- What is the status of the lawsuit and settlement?
- What is the definition of the Settlement Class?
- Do I need to do anything if I didn’t get a Notice in the mail?
- What does the Settlement provide?
- What do I need to do in order to obtain a payment from the Settlement funds?
- What rights will I release if I do not exclude myself from the Settlement Class?
- What are my rights and options?
- What’s the difference between objecting and excluding myself?
- Do I have a lawyer in this case?
- How much will Class Counsel be paid, and how will they be paid?
- When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the Settlement?
- Do I have to come to the Fairness Hearing?
- What should I do if my address is different or I move?
- Are more details about the lawsuit and the Settlement available?
A Notice is being mailed to individuals that have been identified as likely being members of the Settlement Class. The Settlement Class consists of all current and former Synovus account owners from whom Synovus has collected, between July 10, 2004 and February 3, 2014, at least one “Overdraft Fee” that was drawn from a Georgia Account, and who were a citizen of Georgia as of July 30, 2010. An Overdraft Fee is defined as a fee charged and collected by Synovus in connection with an overdraft incurred in the use of a point-of-sale/debit or ATM card (a/k/a a “Bank Card”), which fee Synovus did not refund or waive in full. A “Georgia Account” is an account maintained by Synovus at a branch bank located in Georgia.
Synovus customers, on behalf of themselves and a proposed class of Georgia citizens, filed a lawsuit against Synovus alleging that Synovus’s Overdraft Fees constitute interest, and therefore violate Georgia’s usury laws. The lawsuit further alleges that, in connection with assessing and collecting Overdraft Fees, Synovus committed conversion and is liable to plaintiff and the Class under a theory of money had and received. Synovus denies that the Overdraft Fees constitute interest, and denies that it is liable to plaintiffs or any member of the class under any of the theories alleged in the lawsuit.
In a class action lawsuit, one or more people, called “class representatives,” sue on behalf of other people that allegedly have similar claims. All these people together are called a “class” or “class members.” Because a class action affects the rights of all class members, the court must find that certain requirements are met to ensure that a class action is appropriate and that the rights of the class members are being adequately represented. Only then will the court “certify” a class, as the Court has done here. If a class has been certified, the court decides all of the issues in the lawsuit for all class members, except for those who exclude themselves from the class. The decisions of the court are binding on all class members who do not exclude themselves.
This case was filed on July 10, 2010. On February 3, 2014, as part of the preliminary approval process, the Court certified a Settlement class. The Court has designated Named Plaintiffs Thomas Griner and Fern Cohn as the Class Representatives. The Court has not decided in favor of plaintiffs or Synovus. Instead, the Class Representatives and Synovus have agreed to a Settlement to avoid the expense and uncertainty of further litigation.
In this lawsuit, the Court has preliminarily approved a Settlement and directed that the parties give notice to the persons who would be entitled to approve and participate in the Settlement. The persons who would be entitled to participate in the Settlement are referred to as the “Settlement Class,” and those who meet the definition of the Settlement Class are called “Settlement Class Members.” A “Participating Settlement Class Member” is a Settlement Class Member who does not opt-out of the Settlement.
The Settlement Class is defined as all current and former Synovus account holders from whom Synovus has collected, between July 10, 2004 and February 3, 2014, at least one Overdraft Fee that was drawn from a Georgia Account, and who were a citizen of Georgia as of July 30, 2010. If you received a copy of the Notice addressed to you in the mail, you were charged an Overdraft Fee between July 10, 2004 and February 3, 2014 drawn from a Georgia Account and you were a Georgia citizen as of July 10, 2010, you are a member of the Settlement Class.
If you are a Settlement Class Member but did not receive a Notice in the mail, it is important you contact the Claims Administrator immediately. You can contact the Claims Administrator at (877) 916-8558.
Yes. If you meet the definition of the Settlement Class, you are a Settlement Class Member even if you did not get a Notice in the mail. That means you have all the legal rights and choices described in this Notice, and must exercise them in the time allowed. It also means that unless you exclude yourself, you will be bound by the Court’s orders and any judgment in this case.
The Settlement requires that Synovus provide the following benefits to the Settlement Class:
- Synovus shall pay the Settlement Class, the Class Representatives and Class Counsel up to Twenty-Four Million Ten Thousand Dollars ($24,010,000.00), which includes up to Sixteen Million Dollars ($16,000,000.00) in payments to the Settlement Class, Eight Million Dollars in attorneys’ fees and expenses ($8,000,000.00) and Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00) collectively in incentive awards to the two Class Representatives. The Sixteen Million Dollars provided to the Settlement Class will be allocated to members of the Settlement Class participating in the Settlement. The money will be credited to the account of customers who still maintain an account at Synovus, and a check will be sent to former customers who do not still maintain an account at Synovus. However, in order to receive a payment from the Settlement funds, Settlement Class Members must properly complete and timely submit a Claim Form.
- In response to the Griner case, Synovus has made material changes to its overdraft practices, policies and procedures. The changes have resulted in significant losses in revenue to Synovus and savings to the Settlement Class, valued in excess of $10 million dollars.
The benefits described above are, together, estimated to be worth at least Thirty Four Million Dollars ($34,000,000.00) to the Settlement Class
If the Settlement is approved by the Court after the Fairness Hearing and becomes final, the Settlement funds will be distributed to Settlement Class Members. The Settlement will not become final until the time to appeal the Court’s approval has expired or any appeals or attacks on that approval are resolved without resulting in a material change to the Settlement terms.
The Settlement will be distributed as follows:
- Each Participating Settlement Class Member who timely submits a properly completed claim form will initially be allocated from the $16 million Settlement fund a full refund of all Overdraft Fees from July 10, 2004 until February 3, 2014.
- In the event that the total amount of Overdraft Fees from Participating Settlement Class Members who timely submit properly completed claim forms exceeds $16 million, then each Participating Settlement Class Member will get his or her proportional share of the $16 million in Settlement funds, which will be determined using the following formula: the Participating Settlement Class Member’s total Overdraft Fees drawn from a Georgia Account during the relevant period divided by the sum of all Overdraft Fees during the Settlement Class Period from of all Participating Settlement Class Members who timely submitted a properly completed claim form.
- In the event that the total amount of Overdraft Fees from Participating Settlement Class Members who timely submit a properly completed claim form is less than $16 million, then any unused portion of the $16 million in Settlement funds will remain with and/or revert back to Synovus.
By way of example – if a Participating Settlement Class Member had $120 in Overdraft Fees between July 10, 2004 and February 3, 2014, and the sum of all Overdraft Fees from all Participating Settlement Class Members is less than $16 million, then the Participating Settlement Class Member would recover $120 (i.e., all of the Overdraft Fees during the settlement class period).
On the other hand, if the sum of all Participating Settlement Class Members’ Maximum Cash Consideration is $32 million, then the Participating Settlement Class Member shall be paid $60, i.e., ($16 million/$32 million = .5 x $120 =$60).
***If you are Settlement Class Member and do not exclude yourself from the settlement, you must complete and mail a Proof of Claim Form - post-marked by June 5, 2014 if you wish to receive any of the Settlement funds.***
The Proof of Claim form includes a full set of instructions.
Even if you object to the Settlement, you should still complete and mail the claim form as instructed, so that you can receive a payment if the Court approves the Settlement.
If the Court gives final approval of the Settlement, you will release Synovus from all of the “Released Claims”, and you will be forever barred from prosecuting them against Synovus. The “Released Claims” include all Claims, demands, actions, suits, and causes of action, whether class, individual, or otherwise in nature, and whether based on Federal or State, common or statutory law here or in any other forum, whether currently pending or not, damages of any nature whatsoever, liabilities of any nature whatsoever, including costs, expenses, penalties, and attorney’s fees, that Releasing Parties, or anyone of them, whether directly, indirectly, derivatively, or in any capacity whatsoever, ever had, now has, or hereafter can, shall, or may have against the Released Parties, whether known or unknown, suspected or unsuspected, in law or equity, relating in any way to or on account of or arising out of the facts, occurrences, transactions, or other matters alleged, or which could have been alleged (whether actually alleged or not) in Griner. The release includes any and all claims whatsoever relating to or arising out of Synovus’ determination, assessment, disclosure, charging and/or collection of any and all Overdraft Fees during the Settlement Class Period regardless of the overdraft theory alleged and/or asserted or that could have been asserted. It is the express intent of this Release to fully, finally and completely resolve, compromise, settle and release any and all claims arising from or in any way related to any Overdraft Fee charged by Synovus to any member of the Settlement Class who does not timely and properly opt out of this Settlement, if approved, that occurred during the Settlement Class Period.
You may review the entire release and the definitions of “Released Claims” in the Settlement Agreement, which you can find on this website at “Court Documents” tab.
You have three options in response to this Notice: (a) remain in the Settlement Class and participate in all of the Settlement; (b) remain in the Settlement Class but voice your support or objection to part or all of the Settlement; or (c) exclude yourself from the Settlement Class.
A. Remaining in the Settlement Class.
If you are a Settlement Class Member and want to remain in the Settlement Class and participate in the Settlement, you do not need to do anything to remain a settlement class member. Again, however, in order to obtain any of the Settlement funds, you must properly complete and timely submit a Claim Form. Further, if you did not receive a Notice in the mail but believe you are a member of the Settlement Class, then you must contact the Claims Administrator at Griner Settlement, c/o GCG, P.O. Box 10042, Dublin, OH 43017-6642, to provide your address.
If the Settlement is finally approved, you will be bound by the Settlement and all of the Court’s orders. All Settlement Class Members who do not timely and validly exclude themselves from the Settlement Class will not be able to independently sue Synovus for any of the Released Claims.
If you remain in the Settlement Class, you may participate on your own or through your own lawyer. If you do hire an attorney, you will have to pay for the lawyer yourself. If you want your own lawyer instead of the lawyers for the Settlement Class to participate or speak for you in this lawsuit, your lawyer must give the Court a paper that is called a “Notice of Appearance.” The Notice of Appearance must be filed with the Court no later than May 6, 2014, and copies sent to the lawyers listed in Paragraph 10(B) below.
B. Remaining in the Settlement Class But Objecting/Supporting to All or Part of the Settlement.
If you are a Settlement Class Member and you do not exclude yourself from the Settlement Class, you have the right to support, object to, or otherwise comment on, all or part of the Settlement. For example, if you do not believe that all or part of the Settlement is fair, reasonable, or adequate, you could file an objection to the Settlement.
If you want your objection to be considered by the Court, you must send a letter that contains all of the following
- The name of the lawsuit, Thomas Griner, et al. v. Synovus Bank, et al, Civil Action File No. 10-C-11235-3;
- the objector’s full name, address and telephone number;
- the objector’s signature (counsel alone is not sufficient);
- A statement of the reasons why you believe you are a member of the Settlement Class;
- A statement that you object to the Settlement or part of the Settlement and the reasons why;
- Regarding any counsel who either drafted, edited or reviewed the complaint, represents the Settlement Class Member, or has a financial interest in the objection, (1) a list of cases in which the objector’s counsel and/or counsel’s law firm have objected to a class action settlement within the preceding five years, and (2) a copy of any orders related to or ruling upon counsel’s or the firm’s prior objections that were issued by the trial and appellate courts in each listed case;
- The identity of all counsel who represent the objector or have a financial interest in the objection, including any former or current counsel who may be entitled to compensation for any reason related to the objection to the Settlement or fee application;
- A statement by the Settlement Class Member under oath that (1) he or she has read the objection in its entirety, (2) he or she is a member of the class and states the date of at least one Overcharge Fee incurred to establish class membership, (3) states the number of times in which the objector has objected to a class action settlement within the five years preceding the date that the objector files the objection, (4) identifies the caption of each case in which the objector has made such objection, (5) authenticates a copy of any orders related to or ruling upon the objector’s prior such objections that were issued by the trial or appellate courts in each listed case, attaching such orders to the statement; and (6) states that he or she will personally appear at the fairness hearing;
- Copies of any evidence or documents you want the Court to consider; and
- If you (or your lawyer) want to appear and speak at the Fairness Hearing, a statement that you wish to appear and speak.
Any Settlement Class Member who attempts to object, but fails to fully comply with these requirements, or who objects to any of the requirements, shall be excluded from the class as if the Settlement Class Member had timely opted out. An objector, and counsel for the objector (if any), must personally appear at the fairness hearing.
Your objection must be filed with the Court no later than May 6, 2014, The Court’s address is: State Court of Gwinnett County, Georgia, 75 Langley Dr SW, Lawrenceville, GA 30046.
Copies of your objection (and any notice of intent to appear) must also be mailed to the following lawyers and postmarked no later than May 6, 2014.
Michael B. Terry
Steven J. Rosenwasser
Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore, LLP
3900 One Atlantic Center
1201 West Peachtree St., NW
Atlanta, Georgia 30309-3417
George W. Walker, III
Wade H. Tomlinson, III
Pope, McGlamry, Kilpatrick, Morrison & Norwood, P.C.
1111 Bay Avenue, Suite 450
Columbus, GA 31901
|Settlement Class Counsel||Counsel for Synovus Bank|
If you file a timely and valid objection, the Court will consider your views. If the Court overrules your objection and issues an order approving the Settlement, then you will be bound by the terms of the Settlement.
C. Excluding Yourself from the Settlement Class.
If you do not want to be bound by the terms of the Settlement or if you want to sue on your own at your own expense, then you must take steps to exclude yourself. The Court will exclude from the Settlement Class any Settlement Class Member who properly requests exclusion. If you exclude yourself from the Settlement Class, you will retain whatever rights you may have to file your own lawsuit or to join another lawsuit against Synovus.
To exclude yourself, you must send a letter that contains all of the following:
- Your name and current address;
- The name of the lawsuit, Thomas Griner, et al. v. Synovus Bank, et al, Civil Action File No. 10-C-11235-3;
- A clear and unqualified statement specifying your request for exclusion; and
- Your signature (no attorney may sign for you).
Mail your exclusion request to the Claims Administrator at the address below so that it is received by May 6, 2014.
Griner Settlement Exclusions c/o GCG P.O. Box 10042 Dublin, OH 43017-6642
Your exclusion request must be received no later than May 6, 2014, or it will not be considered valid.
Objecting is the way to tell the Court what you don’t like about the Settlement. You can object only if you stay in the Settlement Class and don’t exclude yourself from the Settlement.
Excluding yourself is the way to tell the Court you don’t want to be a part of the Settlement Class, and that you want to keep whatever rights you may have to file your own lawsuit. If you exclude yourself, you can’t object because the Settlement does not affect you anymore.
Yes. The Court has appointed the following lawyers to represent the Settlement Class:
Michael B. Terry
Steven J. Rosenwasser
Bondurant Mixson & Elmore, LLP
3900 One Atlantic Center
1201 West Peachtree Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30309-3417
C. Ron Ellington
C. Ron Ellington, P.C.
135 Beaver Trail
Athens, GA 30605
The Finley Law Firm
2931 N. Druid Hills Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30329
Gerald Davidson, Jr.
Mahaffey Pickens Tucker LLP
1550 North Brown Road
Lawrenceville, GA 30043
These lawyers are called Class Counsel.
The Settlement Class will not be responsible for attorneys’ fees or expenses for Class Counsel and will not be required to pay any amount to participate in this Settlement. The Named Plaintiffs/Class Counsel will instead file motions with the Court asking it to set an amount in attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses that Synovus should pay. Under the terms of the Settlement, Synovus has agreed to pay Class Counsel $8 million for attorneys’ fees and expenses. This payment is separate and apart from the $16 million payment to the settlement class. That is, the attorneys’ fees will not reduce the payment or benefits to the Settlement Class in any way. Further, in return for the contributions of the Class Representatives to the case, Class Counsel will ask the Court to approve a payment to them in the amount of $5,000 each to be paid by Synovus. Synovus has agreed not to object to this payment, which requires Court approval.
THE COURT’S FAIRNESS HEARING
The Court will hold a hearing to consider everyone’s views and to decide whether to finally approve the Settlement and the motion/petition for an award of attorneys’ fees and for reimbursement of expenses, as well as any motion for incentive awards to the Named Plaintiffs.
The Court will hold a Fairness Hearing at 1:30 p.m. on May 20, 2014. The Court is located at the State Court of Gwinnett County, Georgia, 75 Langley Dr SW, Lawrenceville, GA 30046. At the Hearing, the Court will consider all timely and valid objections, and will consider whether the Settlement is fair and adequate. The Court will also consider the motions/petitions for an award of attorneys’ fees and for reimbursement of expenses, as well as any motion for incentive awards to the Named Plaintiffs. The Court will listen to people who have timely and validly asked to speak at the Hearing. After the Fairness Hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the Settlement and the issue of attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses and Named Plaintiff incentive awards.
You do not have to come to the Fairness Hearing. Settlement Class Counsel will answer any questions the Court has. But you and/or your lawyer are welcome to come at your own expense.
Please remember that you must notify the Claims Administrator of any change of address after you receive this Notice. You can contact the Claims Administrator at:
PO Box 10042
Dublin, OH 43017-6642
Tel: (877) 916-8558
You should also contact the Claims Administrator if this Notice reached you at an address different from the address on the label, or if you would prefer that all further information about the lawsuit be mailed to a different address.
The Notice summarizes the lawsuit and the Settlement. More details are in the pleadings filed in this lawsuit. You can read these documents at State Court of Gwinnett County, Georgia, 75 Langley Dr SW, Lawrenceville, GA 30046.
You can also get more information or have questions answered by calling Class Counsel.
** If you wish to file a claim and participate in this Settlement, please read and return a Claim Form **
Please do not contact the Clerk or the Court, as they cannot answer any questions you have about the lawsuit or the Settlement.