Wells argo Bank in Window Rock, Arizona on Navajo Nation. Photo by Navajo Times.
Published August 23, 2019
WINDOW ROCK — On Thursday, the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President announced a settlement with Wells Fargo Bank, settling the Navajo Nation’s lawsuit detailing the Bank’s long campaign of predatory and unlawful practices that targeted and harmed the Navajo people. Under the terms of the settlement, Wells Fargo will pay the Navajo Nation $6.5 million dollars.
“Wells Fargo’s predatory actions defrauded and harmed the Nation,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez. “We held Wells Fargo accountable for their actions and we will continue to hold other companies accountable if their business practices do not respect our people — this puts other companies on notice that harmful business practices against the Navajo people will not be tolerated.”
The Nation originally filed suit in United States District Court in December 2017. The complaint detailed a long pattern of misconduct by Wells Fargo, and brought claims under the Federal Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA), claims under other federal consumer protection laws, and claims under state, tribal and common law. The Nation also filed a separate lawsuit in Navajo Nation District Court reasserting its tribal and common law claims.
“The Wells Fargo settlement compensates the Nation, as well as avoids the uncertainty and expense of continued litigation,” said Navajo Nation Attorney General Doreen N. McPaul. “Our litigation team at the Department of Justice, led by Assistant Attorney General Paul Spruhan, handled the tribal court litigation and he and Assistant Attorney General Jana Werner from our Tax and Finance Unit coordinated with our outside counsel on the federal case.”
“We are proud of our work for the Navajo Nation and for securing this important settlement,” said Hueston Hennigan partner John C. Hueston, who handled the federal litigation along with Hueston Hennigan partner Moez M. Kaba.
Wells Fargo also reached a multi-state settlement with the attorney generals of all 50 states and the District of Columbia in 2018.
“The Nation is pleased with the settlement, and proud that our attorneys were able to secure more for the Navajo Nation in settlement than any other state with comparable populations,” said Navajo Nation Vice President Lizer.
The Navajo Nation is represented by Attorney General Doreen N. McPaul, Assistant Attorneys General Paul Spruhan and Jana Werner of the Navajo Nation Department of Justice, and John C. Hueston and Moez M. Kaba of Hueston Hennigan LLP.