A branch office of Wells Fargo bank
A branch office of Wells Fargo bank ()

U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet of the Southern District of New York granted Wells Fargo a stay Wednesday in the lead class action suit brought over unwanted car insurance it forced on hundreds of thousands of customers.

During the brief hearing on Jacob v. National General Insurance, 17-cv-05806, Sweet said his decision to grant the stay wasn’t a statement on the merits of the case. Rather, it was in deference to the process of consolidating a raft of similar suits currently ending before the federal Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.

“I don’t want to impose on whatever fortunate judge receives the benefaction of these cases,” Sweet said, wryly.

The stay will hold off proceedings in Jacob until the judicial panel decides which court will steer the consolidated cases going forward. The stay includes Wells Fargo’s response to the complaint and discovery.

In July, an internal report surfaced that showed Wells Fargo inappropriately charged some 800,000 auto loan customers with insurance that they didn’t want. The move forced tens of thousands into delinquency, according to the report.

The plaintiff in the case, represented at the hearing by Chicago-based DiCello Levitt & Casey name attorney Adam Levitt, asked the court to deny the stay in lieu of an injunction to have the bank take steps now to help repair the credit scores damaged by the financial burden of the unwanted car insurance.

Sweet asked Levitt why he should not grant the stay, but informed him before he spoke that he was “going to lose.”

Levitt nonetheless said the injunction was only to get Wells Fargo to do “something that [it] has already said it would do, but has not yet done.”