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JUST ASKING: What's the status of the lawsuit against ANZ?

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A reader asks: What ever happened to the lawsuit filed by three American Samoans against ANZ Guam Inc, Was it dismissed or settled? Samoa News has not reported on this case since June of last year.

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The class action complaint was filed Mar. 21, 2018 at the federal court in Guam by Ronald Parker, Fa’afetai Parker, and Tualagi Gaoteote against ANZ Guam, Inc. and its local subsidiary, ANZ Amerika Samoa Bank on behalf of certain homeowners with residential mortgages with ANZ.

A court order dated June 11, 2020, outlines dates for filing motions, counter-motions, pre trial hearings, with trial by jury — unknown length at this time — to commence on Oct. 19 — next year — 2021.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs, who were all residents in American Samoa at the time of the filing — allege that ANZ fails to provide homeowners with accurate periodic statements, fails to provide adequate notice when it changes the interest rates on adjustable rate mortgages, and charges excessive late fees.

The Complaint includes five counts: violation of the Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”) (counts I & II), breach of contract (count III), unjust enrichment (count IV), and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing (count V).

ANZ answered the Complaint on April 12, 2019.

ANZ filed a partial motion to dismiss certain claims and to strike certain allegations in the Complaint on June 8, 2018, arguing that the claims for violation of TILA are time barred, and that class allegations should be struck from the Complaint.

On March 29, 2019 the Court issued an Order Denying ANZ’s Motion to Dismiss Claims and to Strike Allegations, but holding that any TILA violation occurring more than one year before the filing of the Complaint was time barred and ruling that the challenge to class allegations could be dealt with at the class certification stage. There were motions and replies filed later.

According the parties Joint Scheduling and Planning Report filed June 8th this year, both sides since June of last year, have discussed mediation, but have not  been able to confirm a date, time and place.

“Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, face-to-face mediation is not currently possible and realistically cannot be safely scheduled for the next several months,” the report states in part. “The parties have discussed their mutual preference for a face-to-face mediation, but have not been able to agree on date, time and place.”

“Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the parties have agreed to have direct settlement discussions without a mediator, but if those discussions are not successful, the parties will revisit the issue of engaging in mediation,” it says.