PNC Fends Off US Mortgage Bias Class Action

August 12, 2013  
mortgage lending news

The Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a lending bias lawsuit against PNC Financial Services Group Inc. cannot proceed as a class action -- a decision that may make it more difficult for borrowers to pursue private litigation as a group in the future. The court refused to revive class certification for more than 153,000 minority customers of the former National City Corp., acquired by PNC in 2008. Black and Hispanic borrowers claimed National City had a "discretionary pricing policy" that allowed loan officers to add on fees and other costs, causing them to pay $350 to $1,100 more per loan than comparable white borrowers -- a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act and Equal Credit Opportunity Act. Circuit Judge Kent Jordan wrote that "the exercise of broad discretion by an untold number of unique decision-makers" in thousands of different, individual decisions "undermines the attempt to claim, on the basis of statistics alone, that the decisions are bound together by a common discriminatory mode." The court insisted, however, that its decision was not a "death knell" for other class actions.
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