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TENTATIVE RULING HITS BOFA WITH FURTHER FEES Lawyers representing a class of approximately 1.3 million Californians suing Bank of America for seizing exempt social security funds from their bank accounts were heartened Thursday by a judge’s tentative decision to tack nearly $400 million onto a billion-dollar jury verdict leveled against the bank in April. In her tentative statement of decision in Miller v. Bank if America, CGC-99-301917, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Anne Bouliane upheld the February jury award of $1,000 per class member and ordered the bank to pay $284 million in restitution to customers who had bounced-check fees levied against their Social Security direct deposits, which, Bouliane ruled, are exempt from such fees. She also allowed for pre-judgment interest of more than $80 million. “The decision is a stinging indictment of a pernicious practice of the Bank of America. It sends a message to the Bank of America and to other banks to follow the law,” said solo Thomas Brandi, who represents the class along with James Sturdevant of the Sturdevant Law Firm. Bouliane also issued an injunction requiring the bank to stop withdrawing overdraft fees from Social Security funds, to stop telling customers it is legal to do so and to track down and repay all customers who had the fees withdrawn from their accounts. The parties have until Oct. 29 to file objections to Bouliane’s tentative decision; a final decision is expected by Nov. 30. Defense attorneys Arne Wagner and Arturo Gonzalez of Morrison & Foerster did not return calls by press time. Sturdevant said he expects Bank of America to first object to the ruling, and later to appeal the judgment if it is finalized, a process that would take at least two years to move through the California courts. Barring a settlement, “nobody’s going to get paid anytime soon,” he said. Miller v. Bank of America was initially filed in 1998 by Paul Miller, a photojournalist left permanently disabled by a head injury incurred while on assignment in Asia. The bank, Miller alleged, had illegally levied overdraft fees against Social Security deposits. After finding the practice to be widespread, Brandi said, the case was filed as a class action. — Justin Scheck FENWICK & WEST ELEVATES 6 TO PARTNER Fenwick & West announced Thursday it has promoted six associates to partner, effective Jan. 1. Michael Farn, 39, who practices in the intellectual property department of the Mountain View office, received his J.D. (with distinction) in 1997 from Stanford Law School. Karen Marie Kitterman, also an intellectual property specialist in the Mountain View office, received her J.D. from Hastings College of the Law in 1993. Andrew Luh, 33, a member of the corporate group in the Mountain View office, received his J.D. (Order of the Coif) in 1996 from Stanford Law School. Patrick Premo, 37, a member of the litigation group in the Mountain View office, received his J.D. (magna cum laude) from Santa Clara University School of Law in 1996. Michael Sacksteder, 42, of the litigation group in the San Francisco office, received his J.D. (magna cum laude, Order of the Coif) from Northwestern University School of Law in 1997. Sayre Stevick, 35, a member of the corporate group in the Mountain View office, received his J.D. (magna cum laude, Order of the Coif, member of the Thurston Honor Society) from Hastings College of the Law in 1997. The class is slightly larger than last year, when Fenwick & West elevated four associates to partner. The firm had 226 attorneys as of the last AmLaw 200 rankings. — Marie-Anne Hogarth

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