PNC Settles Overdraft Fee Case For $90 Million


* Lenders accused of reordering transactions to boost fees

* PNC joins Bank of America, JPMorgan, others to settle

* 13 lenders have settled litigation over fees -- lawyer

By Jonathan Stempel

June 26 (Reuters) - PNC Financial Services Group Inc , one of the 10 largest U.S. banks, has agreed to pay $90 million to settle lawsuits accusing it of charging excessive overdraft fees.

The Pittsburgh-based lender's settlement, made public on Tuesday, would resolve lawsuits brought on behalf of hundreds of thousands of customers. Overdraft fees are often assessed when customers overdraw their checking accounts by using debit cards.

PNC joined Bank of America Corp, JPMorgan Chase & Co and several smaller banks in settling litigation over the fees. Bank of America's $410 million accord is the largest.

Fred Solomon, a PNC spokesman, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

PNC's settlement requires approval by U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King in Miami. He oversees nationwide litigation regarding the fees, which was consolidated before him in 2009.

Robert Gilbert, a lawyer for the customers, said 13 of the 35 lenders that were sued had reached settlements.

"The resolution of these disputes puts some money back in the hands of people who have suffered damages, without the risk of recovering nothing at a trial," Gilbert said in an interview.

Customers accused banks of reordering transactions from largest to smallest, and not processing them in chronological order. They said this allowed banks to charge overdraft fees, which are typically $25 to $35, sooner and more often because account balances fell faster.

Some banks have changed their policies in connection with settlements. JPMorgan, for example, will beginning on July 22 no longer charge overdraft fees on purchases of $5 or less.

Gilbert said PNC had also agreed to change its overdraft fee policy. He declined to specify any changes.

Other settlements include $137.5 million for Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc's Citizens Financial unit and $110 million for JPMorgan. Neither has yet received final approval.

Citigroup Inc, Wells Fargo & Co and Capital One Financial Corp are among the larger banks that have not settled.

Wells Fargo also awaits a decision from a federal appeals court in California on whether to overturn a $203 million award to consumers in that state in a separate overdraft case.

The case is In re: Checking Account Overdraft Litigation, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, No. 09-md-02036.

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