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Perez v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, N.D. California

May 9, 2018

MITZIE PEREZ, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STRIKE AND TO DISMISS; DENYING AS MOOT DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STAY DISCOVERY RE: DKT. NOS. 166, 167

          MAXINE M. CHESNEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court are two motions filed by defendant Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. ("Wells Fargo"): (1) "Motion to Strike Portions of the Third Amended Complaint and to Dismiss the Third Amended Complaint in Part, " filed March 16, 2018 ("Motion to Strike and Dismiss"); and (2) "Motion to Stay Discovery Pending Final Disposition of Motion to Strike Portions of the Third Amended Complaint and to Dismiss the Third Amended Complaint in Part, " filed March 16, 2018 ("Motion to Stay"). The motions have been fully briefed. The Court, having read and considered the papers filed in support of and in opposition to the motions, hereby rules as follows.[1]

         BACKGROUND

         In the Third Amended Complaint ("TAC"), plaintiffs allege Wells Fargo "outright refuses to extend certain types of credit to non-United States citizens who reside in the United States." (See TAC ¶ 2.) Specifically, plaintiffs allege: (1) plaintiff Mitzi Perez ("Perez"), a "DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] recipient, " applied for a "student loan, " which Wells Fargo denied "due to her citizenship status" (see TAC ¶¶ 38- 40); (2) plaintiff Andres Acosta ("Acosta") applied for a "commercial equipment loan, " which, "because he was neither a U.S. citizen nor a permanent resident, " Wells Fargo denied and, additionally, "cancelled" a "credit card" it previously had issued to him (see TAC ¶¶ 43, 46-47); (3) plaintiff Sergio Barajas ("Barajas") applied for a "credit card" and was told his application could not be considered unless he had a "green card, " which he did not have (see TAC ¶¶ 51, 55); (4) plaintiff Teresa Diaz Vedoy ("Diaz Vedoy") applied for a "personal loan" and a "credit card, " both of which Wells Fargo denied because she was "not a permanent United States resident" (see TAC ¶¶ 58, 61); (5) plaintiff Victoria Rodas ("Rodas") applied for a "student loan, " which Wells Fargo denied because she was "not a permanent resident" (see TAC ¶¶ 65, 68); and (6) plaintiff Samuel Tabares Villafuerte ("Tabaras Villafuerte") applied for a "student credit card, " which Wells Fargo denied because he was "not a permanent resident" (see TAC ¶¶ 71, 73). Plaintiffs, who seek to proceed individually and on behalf of a class, allege the above-referenced denials violate 42 U.S.C. § 1981, the Unruh Civil Rights Act, and the California Unfair Competition Law.

         The TAC includes the following class allegations:

Plaintiffs . . . bring their class allegations under Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a), (b)(2), and (b)(3) on behalf of four classes, each consisting of all non-United States citizens who resided in the United States and who held either (i) DACA status, (ii) temporary protected status, or (iii) another legally protected status under any United States visa at the relevant time they applied or attempted to apply for credit from Wells Fargo ("Covered Non-Citizen Residents") from January 30, 2013 through the date of final judgment in this action ("Covered Period"), defined as follows:
a. All Covered Non-Citizen Residents who applied or attempted to apply for a Wells Fargo student loan and did not receive that loan during the Covered Period (the "Student Loan Class");
b. All Covered Non-Citizen Residents who applied or attempted to apply for a Wells Fargo unsecured credit card and did not receive that credit card during the Covered Period (the "Credit Card Class");
c. All Covered Non-Citizen Residents who held a greater than 24% ownership interest in a business and applied or attempted to apply for a Wells Fargo Business Direct credit product for that business and did not receive that credit product during the Covered Period (the "Business Direct Class"); and
d. All Covered Non-Citizen Residents who applied or attempted to apply for a Wells Fargo automobile loan, personal loan, or home mortgage and did not receive those loans or mortgages during the Covered Period (the "A/P/M Class").

(See TAC ¶ 80). Plaintiffs allege Perez and Rodas are members of the first class, Barajas, Diaz Vedoy, and Tabares Villafuerte are members of the second class, Acosta is a member of the third class, and Diaz Vedoy is a member of the fourth class.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Motion to Strike and Dismiss

         In a prior motion to strike, Wells Fargo argued, and the Court thereafter found, the class allegations, as set forth in the Second Amended Complaint, were subject to dismissal on the ground such allegations were based on a "fail-safe" class, i.e., "one that is defined so narrowly as to preclude membership unless the liability of the defendant is established." See Torres v. Mercer Canyons, Inc., 835 F.3d 1125, 1138 n.7 (9th Cir. 2016) (internal quotation, citation and alteration omitted). Wells Fargo now argues the new class definitions are overly broad and, consequently, the entirety of the class allegations should, once again, be stricken. Additionally, Wells Fargo, after pointing out there is no allegation that plaintiff Diaz Vedoy applied for an automobile loan or a home mortgage, argues Diaz Vedoy's individual claims based on denials of such loans are subject to dismissal ...


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