Wells Fargo prevails in a promissory note case, or did they?

Remember the case I was ranting about? The one where Wells Fargo’s lawyers billed for ridiculous tasks and ridiculous amounts of time. They can be found here and here. Well, the award came out. My client was ordered to pay Wells Fargo everything they asked for in principal and interest on the promissory notes. The total was about $169,000. But that’s not the entire story.

My client was awarded $5,000 in discovery sanctions. Wells Fargo did not produce documents in a timely manner. In fact, one file was not produced until late morning on the second, and final, day of the hearing. So now their net is down to about $164,000.

Wells Fargo, as a member of FINRA, had to pay “Member Fees” of $5,200. Now their net is down to about $158,800. They had to pay $200 for a decision on one discovery-related motion. Now the balance is about $158,600.

The panel assessed $3,465 of hearing session fees against Wells Fargo. Now the balance is about $155,135.

The attorneys’ fees, before we had motion practice on the reasonableness of the fees, were just over $154,000. Since we’re rounding, we won’t be precise. But that now brings the net down to about $1,135.

Oh, and my client received an expungement of a defamatory U-5 filing the subject of which is what caused him to leave Wells Fargo in the first place.

So, after nearly two years of demanding payment and litigating, Wells Fargo ended up without a significant producer and ahead about $1,135. I forgot to add in the travel costs for 3 Wells Fargo employees who were witnesses. We’ll call it a wash for them, at best. So they lost a producer and, at best, ended up with no net recovery on the promissory notes.

If Wells Fargo had simply believed my client in the first place, not pursued the promissory note and not pursued the other part of the case (which the firm lost), they would have ended up ahead. Oops.

Not every case goes like this. This was a unique set of facts. But this is one of those times where being on the losing end still feels like a win.

That’s the view of one lawyer from Jupiter, Palm Beach County, Florida. I’m Marc Dobin.

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