Frequently Asked Questions

Basic Information

These FAQ’s (answers to frequently asked questions) explain the lawsuit, the Settlement, your legal rights, what benefits are available, who may be eligible for those benefits, and how to get them.

Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr., of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, is overseeing this Class Action. The case is known as Schulte, et al. v. Fifth Third Bank, Case No. 1:09-CV-06655, filed on October 21, 2009, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

The person who sued is called "Plaintiff," and the company they sued, Fifth Third Bank, is called "Defendant."

The lawsuit alleges that Fifth Third improperly assessed overdraft fees for insufficient funds on debit card purchases and/or ATM withdrawals by "re-sequencing" transactions in order to maximize the number of overdraft fees. Fifth Third denies all of Plaintiff’s claims and says that it did nothing wrong.

In a Class Action, one or more people called "Representative Plaintiffs" (in this case Shannon Schulte and Marlene Willard) sue on behalf of people who have similar claims. All of these people are a "Settlement Class" or "Settlement Class Members." One Court resolves the issues for all class members, except for those who timely exclude themselves from the Class.

The Court did not decide in favor of Plaintiff or Defendant. Instead, both sides agreed to settle this case to avoid the cost and risk of a trial. The proposed Settlement does not mean that any law was broken or that the Defendant did anything wrong. Defendant denies all legal claims in this case. Settlement Class Representatives and their lawyers think the proposed Settlement is best for all Settlement Class Members.

Who is in the Settlement

To see if you will be affected by the Settlement or if you can get a payment from it, you first have to determine if you are a Settlement Class Member.

The Court decided that the Settlement Class includes all persons in the United States who hold or held a Fifth Third Account and who at any time during the Class Period incurred at least one Overdraft Fee (as defined in FAQ 6, below) associated with at least one Fifth Third Debit Card Transaction. Each of these persons is a Settlement Class Member. The Class Period is from October 21, 2004, through July 1, 2010.

Under the terms of the Settlement, "Overdraft Fee" means an insufficient funds fee, overdraft fee, returned item fee, daily overdraft fee, overlimit fee, or other similar fee, incurred as a result of the "re-sequencing" of a Fifth Third Debit Card Transaction in non-chronological order that was not previously reversed, refunded or returned.

"Debit Card" means a debit card, check card or any other bank card used for debit purchases bearing the Fifth Third logo or brand.

"Debit Card Transaction" means a transaction done with or relating to a Fifth Third Debit Card. Examples include the use of a Fifth Third Debit Card in an automated teller machine ("ATM") and/or for point of sale ("POS") transactions.

"Point of sale" transactions include any purchase made using a Fifth Third Debit Card at a merchant or retailer.

Yes. The following are not included in the settlement: Fifth Third and its officers and directors; the Court presiding over any motion to approve this settlement; and anyone who timely submits a valid request to be excluded from the Settlement Class (see FAQ 19 "Excluding Yourself from the Settlement").

If you are not sure whether you are in the Settlement Class, or have any other questions about the settlement, write to Fifth Third Overdraft Settlement, PO Box 3266, Portland, OR 97208-3266, or send an e-mail to info@OverdraftSettlement.com.

The Settlement Benefits—What You Get if You Qualify

If the settlement is approved and becomes final, it will provide benefits to Settlement Class Members.

Fifth Third will pay $9,500,000 to a Settlement Fund to make payments to eligible Settlement Class Members as well as to pay: (a) attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses; (b) incentive payments; and (c) third party costs to provide notice and to administer the Settlement.

Payments will be made to Settlement Class Members who submit valid Claim Forms (see FAQ 10 "How do I calculate the Overdraft Fees to complete my Claim Form?" below). Claimants may be paid up to three times the amount of their claim, depending on the total amount of valid claims submitted. If the total amount needed to pay valid claims exceeds funds available in the Settlement Fund, each Settlement Class Member’s payment will be reduced and paid in proportion to all Settlement Class Members’ payments.

If there are funds remaining in the Settlement Fund after payments are made to Settlement Class Members, all remaining funds shall be distributed to one (1) nonprofit credit counseling organization, which shall be agreed to by Settling Parties and subject to the approval of the Court, in each of the twelve (12) states that Defendant has branches (Ohio, Illinois, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia, North Carolina, Missouri, Michigan, and Pennsylvania).

Details on all of the Settlement benefits are in the Settlement Agreement, which may be accessed on the Documents page of this website.

If you believe you were charged Overdraft Fees between October 21, 2004 and July 1, 2010, you should complete and submit a claim (see FAQ 14 "How can I get a payment?"). Prepare your claim carefully after reviewing any bank statements or other records you may have (see FAQ 12 "What if I do not remember if I paid an Overdraft Fee?"). On the Claim Form provide the number and dollar amount of Overdraft Fees you believe you were charged in any continuous 45 day period between October 21, 2004 and July 1, 2010. In the Claim Information section select either Option 1 or Option 2. If you do not have all of your records and your claim is based only on your best knowledge and belief, select Option 1. If your claim is based on a review of your records, select Option 2. You can submit only one Claim Form regardless of the Overdraft Fees you may have been charged by Fifth Third.

Relying on its business records, Fifth Third may take steps to verify the information you provided on your Claim Form. Fifth Third may contest the validity of your claim by notifying you, the Claims Administrator and Settlement Class Counsel. In this case, Fifth Third will attempt to reach agreement with you regarding the validity of your Claim Form. If your claim is contested, Fifth Third may be required to provide documentation to the Claims Administrator. You may also be asked by the Claims Administrator to provide additional information to document your claim. If Fifth Third is not able to reach agreement with you, the Claims Administrator will make a final determination.

The Settlement Agreement, available on the Documents page of this website, provides further details.

In order to assist you with properly and accurately completing a Claim Form, Fifth Third will make available on its website (www.53.com) all Settlement Class Member account statements for a period going back 16 months from the date of request by the Settlement Class Member. Directions for securely accessing your statements are provided on the (www.53.com) website. These statements may be reviewed free of charge.

Fifth Third will also implement the following modifications to its business practices:

  1. Fifth Third Debit Card Transactions will not be charged to a customer’s Fifth Third Account from highest amount to lowest amount. Rather, Fifth Third has agreed that it will process all such charges in chronological order. This means that Fifth Third Debit Card Transactions will be processed in the order that they are presented to Fifth Third for payment, regardless of amount.
  2. All customer service representatives in Fifth Third’s call centers will be trained on issues related to Overdraft Fees and other overdraft issues. These customer service representatives will have the ability and authority to waive any overdraft fee for good cause ("good cause" may include an automatic waiver of one (1) overdraft fee per year, plus those resulting from errors in account reporting and other hardship situations such as hospitalization or illness causing an inability to examine account balances (medical documentation may be required for such claims)).

How to Get Benefits—Submitting a Claim

To ask for a payment you must complete and submit a Claim Form. You can submit a claim online or view and print a paper Claim Form. You can also request that a Claim Form be mailed to you by calling 1-888-235-7491.

If you complete your claim online, the claim must be submitted on the website by May 2, 2011. If you complete a paper Claim Form, mail your Claim Form postmarked no later than May 2, 2011 to:

Fifth Third Overdraft Settlement
PO Box 3266
Portland, OR 97208-3266

Payments will be mailed to Settlement Class Members who submit valid Claim Forms after the Court grants "final approval" to the Settlement and after any appeals are resolved (see FAQ 24 "The Court’s Fairness Hearing"). It is uncertain when any appeals made will be resolved, and resolving them can take time. Please be patient.

If the Settlement becomes final, Settlement Class Members who submit a Claim Form or do nothing at all will be releasing Fifth Third from all of the claims described and identified in Sections 34-36 of the Settlement Agreement. This means you will no longer be able to sue Fifth Third regarding any of the claims described in the Settlement Agreement.

The Settlement Agreement is available on the Documents page of this website. The Settlement Agreement provides more detail regarding the release and describes the released claims with specific descriptions in necessary, accurate legal terminology, so read it carefully. You can talk to the law firms representing the Settlement Class listed in FAQ 20 "Do I Have a Lawyers in the Case" for free or you can, at your own expense, talk to your own lawyer if you have any questions about the released claims or what they mean.

Excluding Yourself from the Settlement

If you do not want to participate in this proposed Settlement and you want to keep the right to sue Fifth Third about the legal issues in this case, then you must take steps to get out of the Settlement. This is called asking to be excluded from, or sometimes called “opting out” of, the Settlement Class.

No. If you exclude yourself, you may not apply for any benefits under the Settlement and you cannot object to the proposed Settlement. If you ask to be excluded, however, you may sue or be part of a different lawsuit against the Defendant in the future. You will not be bound by anything that happens in this lawsuit.

Unless you exclude yourself, you give up the right to sue the Defendant for all of the claims that the proposed Settlement resolves. You must exclude yourself from this Settlement Class to start your own lawsuit or be part of any different lawsuit relating to the claims in this case.

To exclude yourself from the proposed Settlement, you must send a letter or other written document by mail saying that you want to be excluded from "Schulte, et al. v. Fifth Third Bank" or "Willard, et al. v. Fifth Third Bancorp" and you must list the account number(s) of your Fifth Third account(s) linked to a Fifth Third Debit Card. In addition, your exclusion request must include, for each account listed:

  1. The full names and current addresses of everyone whose name is on the account.
  2. A statement that everyone whose name is on the account satisfies the criteria set forth in FAQ 5 to be a Settlement Class Member.
  3. A statement of intention to exclude everyone whose name is on the account from the Settlement Class.
  4. The signature of everyone whose name is on the account.

Be sure to include your full name, address, signature, and date. You must mail your request for exclusion postmarked by February 23, 2011 to:

Fifth Third Overdraft Exclusions
PO Box 3266
Portland, OR 97208-3266

You cannot ask to be excluded on the phone, by email, or at the website.

The Lawyers Representing You

The Court appointed Ben Barnow, Barnow and Associates, P.C., of Chicago, Illinois, (312) 621-2000; Burton H. Finkelstein, Finkelstein Thompson LLP, of Washington, D.C., (202) 337-8000; Hassan A. Zavareei, Tycko & Zavareei LLP, of Washington, D.C., (202) 973-0900; and David J. Worley, Evangelista & Associates, LLC, of Atlanta, Georgia, (404) 478-7195 as "Settlement Class Counsel" to represent you and other Settlement Class Members. You will not be charged for these lawyers. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer in this case, you may hire one at your own expense.

Settlement Class Counsel will ask the Court for attorney’s fees of $3.167 million along with payment of reasonable costs and expenses. Settlement Class Counsel will also request incentive payments of $1,000 to each Class Representative Plaintiff for their services on behalf of the Settlement Class. The Court may award less than these amounts. Payments approved by the Court will be made from the Settlement Fund.

Objecting to the Settlement

You can object to the Settlement if you do not like some part of it. You must give reasons why you think the Court should not approve the Settlement. To object, send a letter saying that you object to the proposed Settlement in Schulte, et al. v. Fifth Third Bank, Case No. 1:09-CV-06655. You must include:

  1. your full name, address, and telephone number;
  2. all grounds for the objection, accompanied by any known legal support for the objection;
  3. the names of all attorneys representing you;
  4. the names of all attorneys representing you who will appear at the fairness hearing (see "The Court’s Fairness Hearing," below);
  5. a list of all people you will call to testify at the fairness hearing;
  6. a statement saying whether you will appear and/or testify at the fairness hearing;
  7. a list of all other objections you have filed during the prior five (5) years;
  8. a list of all other objections filed by your attorneys during the prior five (5) years; and
  9. your signature or the signature of your duly authorized attorney or other duly authorized representative (along with documentation of such representation).

Mail the objection to each of the following three addresses so that it is postmarked no later than February 23, 2011.

COURT
Clerk of the Court
United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
219 South Dearborn Street
Chicago, IL 60604

SETTLEMENT CLASS COUNSEL
Ben Barnow, Esq.
Barnow and Associates, P.C.
One North LaSalle Street
Suite 4600
Chicago, IL 60602

DEFENDANT'S COUNSEL
Patrick F. Fischer, Esq.
Keating, Muething & Klekamp PLL
One East Fourth Street
Suite 1400
Cincinnati, Ohio OH 45202

Objecting is simply telling the Court that you do not like something about the Settlement. You can object only if you stay in the Settlement Class. Excluding yourself is telling the Court that you do not want to be part of the Settlement Class. If you exclude yourself, you cannot object to the Settlement and you will not be eligible to apply for any benefits under the Settlement because the case no longer affects you.

The Court's Fairness Hearing

On March 16, 2011, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois held a fairness hearing to consider whether to give final approval to the Settlement. The matter was taken under advisement. Further updates will be posted on this website as they become available.

No. Settlement Class Counsel will answer any questions the Court may have. However, you are welcome to attend the hearing at your own expense. If you send in a written objection, you do not have to come to the Fairness Hearing to talk about it. As long as you mailed your written objection on time, the Court will consider it. You may also pay your own lawyer to attend the Fairness Hearing, but their attendance is not necessary.

To speak at the Fairness Hearing, you must send a letter or other written document saying that it is your "Notice of Intent to Appear" in Schulte, et al. v. Fifth Third Bank, Case No. 1:09-CV-06655. Be sure to include your name, address, telephone number, and your signature. You also must include information about what you intend to say at the hearing. If you intend to have your attorney represent you at the hearing, please indicate this and provide the full name and contact information for your attorney. Also, please list anyone you or your attorney will call to testify at the hearing. Please send copies of your "Notice of Intent to Appear" to the Court, Settlement Class Counsel, and Defendant’s Counsel as listed in FAQ 22 above. It must be postmarked no later than February 23, 2011. You cannot speak at the hearing if you exclude yourself from the Settlement.

If You Do Nothing

If you are a Settlement Class Member and do nothing you will not get a payment from this Settlement. And, unless you exclude yourself, you will not be able to start a lawsuit, continue with a lawsuit, or be part of any other lawsuit against the Defendants about the claims in this case, ever again.

Questions? info@OverdraftSettlement.com