Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why did I receive a Settlement account credit?

    Account credits were issued pursuant to the terms of the class action Settlement Agreement. To receive a payment, you:

    1. Submitted a claim for a Settlement award, and the Settlement Administrator determined it was timely and valid; AND / OR
    2. Were automatically entitled to an award pursuant to the terms of the Settlement Agreement.

    The account credit amount is final and represents the full amount to which you are entitled under the terms of the settlement.

    Account credits to Class Members with open affected accounts were issued late January 2021.

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  2. Why did I receive a Settlement check?

    Settlement checks were issued pursuant to the terms of the class action Settlement Agreement. To receive a payment, you:

    1. Submitted a claim for a Settlement award, and the Settlement Administrator has determined it was timely and valid; AND / OR
    2. Were automatically entitled to an award pursuant to the terms of the Settlement Agreement.

    The check amount is final and represents the full amount to which you are entitled under the terms of the settlement.

    Settlement checks to Class Members with closed affected accounts were mailed January 29, 2021.

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  3. Can I have my Settlement check reissued?

    All reissue requests must be sent in writing to the Settlement Administrator at the address listed below. All requests must include your full name, your return address, and your signature.

    Smith v. Bank of Hawaii Claims Administrator
    P.O. Box 4349
    Portland, OR 97208-4349

    If the name of the Class Member on the check should be changed, please send in documentation, as applicable, according to the following list:

    • Name Change – If your name has changed, please provide documentation showing this to be the case, which can include documents such as a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court papers indicative of a name change.
    • Name Removal – In order to have a name removed from a check reissue, either have all parties on the check sign a letter requesting the name(s) to be removed, or provide documentation that shows that one party is unable to negotiate the check (i.e. death certificate).
    • Deceased Class Member – If the Class Member indicated on the check is deceased, please submit acceptable documentation showing that you are the beneficiary of his or her Estate. Acceptable documentation is a death certificate, together with the pertinent portion of the Will, or Court Order/Letters Testamentary naming you as Personal Representative, Administrator, Executor, or Executrix.
    • Incapacitated Class Member – If the Class Member cannot act on his or her own behalf, acceptable documentation is a Power of Attorney, or guardianship or custodial paperwork.
    • Closed Business – If you are the legal representative of a business which is no longer active, please include a letter with instructions for the name that should be included on the replacement check, as well as documentation proving you are authorized to act on behalf of the business. Documentation may include Articles of Incorporation, Articles of Organization, Articles of Dissolution, or any other similar legal documentation that explicitly states you are, or were, an acting party for the business.

    We will review the letter and documentation, and will contact you if more information is required.

    For reasons of security, a check reissue cannot take place until either the original check is received back by us, a mailing has been returned to us as undeliverable, or until the original stale date of the check has passed or expired.

    Because one of these events must occur before we can act on your request, it is not possible for us to provide an estimated date for the reissue to take place. We thank you for your patience.

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  4. Can I dispute the amount of my Settlement payment?

    You cannot dispute the amount of your Settlement payment, and the deadline to object was May 31, 2020.

    The amount of your Settlement payment is final and represents the amount to which you were entitled under the terms of the Settlement Agreement. The Court approved the Settlement, including the methodology used to compute the amount of Settlement payments, on December 22, 2020.

    You can find a copy of the Final Approval Order and the Settlement Agreement on the Important Documents page of this website.

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  5. What is this lawsuit about?

    The lawsuit that has been settled is entitled Rodney Smith v. Bank of Hawaii in the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii, Case No. 16-cv-00513 JMS-WRP. The case is a “class action.” That means that the "Named Plaintiff," Rodney Smith, is an individual who is acting on behalf of three groups:

    • The first group is all customers of Bank of Hawaii who were charged an overdraft fee for any payment transaction from September 9, 2015 through August 1, 2017, and at the time such fee was imposed, that person had sufficient funds in the balance in his or her account to complete the transaction, but not if holds which had been placed on pending debit card transactions and deposits were deducted from the balance.
    • The second group is all customers of Bank of Hawaii who were charged an overdraft fee for any payment transaction from September 9, 2010 through September 8, 2015, and at the time such fee was imposed, that person had sufficient funds in the balance in his or her account to complete the transaction, but not if holds which had been placed on pending debit card transactions and deposits were deducted from the balance.
    • The third group is all customers of Bank of Hawaii who opted into overdraft protection under Regulation E prior to March 1, 2017, and who were charged an overdraft fee for a nonrecurring debit card or ATM transaction from September 9, 2015 through September 30, 2017.

    The persons in these groups are collectively called the "Class Members".

    The Named Plaintiff claims Bank of Hawaii improperly charged overdraft fees when customers had enough money in the ledger balances but not the available balances of their checking accounts to cover a transaction, and also alleges Bank of Hawaii did not properly opt customers into its overdraft program for debit card payment transactions. The operative Amended Complaint alleges claims for violations of Hawaii’s Unfair and Deceptive Practices Act, breach of contract, including the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, unjust enrichment/restitution, money had and received, and violations of the Electronic Fund Transfer Act. The Named Plaintiff is seeking a refund of alleged improper overdraft fees charged to Class Member accounts. Bank of Hawaii does not deny it charged overdraft fees but contends it did so properly and in accordance with the terms of its agreements and applicable law. Bank of Hawaii maintains that its practices were and now are proper and properly disclosed to its customers, and therefore denies that its practices give rise to claims for damages by the Named Plaintiff or any Class Member.

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  6. Why did I receive the Notice for this lawsuit?

    You received the Notice because Bank of Hawaii’s records indicate that you were charged with one or more Eligible Overdraft Fees. The Court directed that the Notice be sent to all Class Members because each Class Member had a right to know about the Settlement and the options available to him or her before the Court decided to approve the Settlement. The Settlement was granted Final Approval on December 22, 2020.

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  7. Why did the parties settle?

    In any lawsuit, there are risks and potential benefits that come with a trial versus settling at an earlier stage. It is the Named Plaintiff’s lawyers’ job to identify when a proposed Settlement offer is good enough that it justifies recommending settling the case instead of continuing to trial. In a class action, these lawyers, known as Class Counsel, make this recommendation to the Named Plaintiff. The Named Plaintiff has the duty to act in the best interests of the class as a whole and, in this case, it is his belief, as well as Class Counsel’s opinion, that this settlement is in the best interest of all Class Members for at least the following reasons:

    • There is legal uncertainty about whether a judge or a jury will find that Bank of Hawaii was contractually and otherwise legally obligated not to assess overdraft fees when the ledger balance was sufficient to pay for a transaction, and even if it was, there is uncertainty about whether the claims are subject to other defenses that might result in no or less recovery to Class Members.
    • Even if the Named Plaintiff were to win at trial, there is no assurance that the Class Members would be awarded more than the current Settlement amount and it may take years of litigation before any payments would be made.

    By settling, the Class Members will avoid these and other risks and the delays associated with continued litigation.

    While Bank of Hawaii disputes the allegations in the lawsuit and denies any liability or wrongdoing, it enters into the Settlement solely to avoid the expense, inconvenience, and distraction of further proceedings in the litigation.

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  8. How do I know if I am part of the Settlement?

    If you received the Notice, then Bank of Hawaii’s records indicate that you are a Class Member who is entitled to receive a payment or credit to your account.

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  9. What options did I have with respect to the Settlement?

    You had four options:

    1. File a claim with the Claims Administrator on the Claim Form attached to the Notice to recover for the Overdraft Fees you were charged for ATM and debit card transactions pertaining to the Claim Form (if you did not receive a Claim Form, then you were not assessed any eligible ATM and debit card fees). The postmark deadline for sending a Claim Form to the Claims Administrator was May 18, 2020;
    2. Do nothing and you may receive a payment according to the terms of this Settlement (see FAQ 20);
    3. Exclude yourself from the Settlement (“Opt Out” of it) (see FAQ 14). The deadline for sending a letter to exclude yourself from or Opt Out of the Settlement was May 11, 2020; or
    4. Participate in the Settlement but object to it (see FAQ 17). The deadline to file an objection with the Court was May 31, 2020.
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  10. How much is the Settlement?

    Bank of Hawaii has agreed to create a Settlement Fund of $8,000,000.00. In addition, Bank of Hawaii has agreed to forgive overdraft fees that were assessed from September 9, 2010 to September 30, 2017 but were not paid. Together these two are the Value of the Settlement.

    As discussed separately in FAQ 11, attorneys' fees, litigation costs, a Service Award to the Named Plaintiff, and the costs paid to a third-party Claims Administrator to administer the Settlement (including mailing and emailing the Notice, and this website) were paid out of the Settlement Fund. The balance of the Settlement Fund was divided among all Class Members based on the amount of Eligible Overdraft Fees they paid. The formula for distributing the Settlement is described in the Settlement Agreement.

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  11. How much of the Settlement Fund was used to pay for attorney fees and costs?

    Class Counsel requested attorneys’ fees of $3,719,255 be awarded by the Court, which is thirty percent (30%) of the Value of the Settlement. Class Counsel also requested to be reimbursed $175,000 in litigation costs incurred in prosecuting the case. The Court approved Class Counsel’s request, for a total of $3,894,255 in attorneys’ fees and reimbursed litigation costs. The Court approved the amount of the attorneys’ fees and costs based on a number of factors, including the risk associated with bringing the case on a contingency basis, the amount of time spent on the case, the amount of costs incurred to prosecute the case, the quality of the work, and the outcome of the case. You may review a copy of the fee application available here. You may view a copy of the Final Approval Order here.

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  12. How much of the Settlement Fund was used to pay the Named Plaintiff a Service Award?

    Class Counsel, on behalf of the Named Plaintiff, requested that the Court award him up to $15,000 for his role in securing this Settlement on behalf of the class. The Court decided that a Service Award is appropriate and, approved the award in the amount of $15,000.

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  13. How much of the Settlement Fund was used to pay the Claims Administrator’s expenses?

    The Claims Administrator has agreed to cap its expenses at $149,575.

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  14. How do I exclude myself from the Settlement?

    If you did not want to receive a payment, or if you wanted to keep any right you may have had to sue Bank of Hawaii for the claims alleged in this lawsuit, then you must have excluded yourself, or “Opted Out” of the Settlement.

    The deadline to exclude yourself from the Settlement was May 11, 2020.

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  15. What happens if I excluded myself from the Settlement?

    If you opted out of the Settlement, you preserved and not give up any of your rights to sue Bank of Hawaii for the claims alleged in this case. However, you will not be entitled to receive a payment from this Settlement.

    The deadline to exclude yourself from the Settlement was May 11, 2020.

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  16. If I excluded myself, can I obtain a payment?

    No. If you excluded yourself, you are not entitled to a payment.

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  17. How do I notify the Court that I do not like the Settlement?

    You could have objected to the Settlement or any part of it that you did not like IF you did not exclude yourself, or Opt Out, from the Settlement. Class Members who exclude themselves from the Settlement have no right to object to how other Class Members are treated.

    The deadline to object to the Settlement was May 31, 2020.

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  18. What is the difference between objecting and requesting exclusion from the Settlement?

    Objecting is telling the Court that you do not believe the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate for the class, and asking the Court to reject it. You can object only if you do not Opt Out of the Settlement. If you object to the Settlement and do not Opt Out, then you are entitled to a payment if the Settlement is approved, but you will release claims you might have against Bank of Hawaii. Excluding yourself or Opting Out is telling the Court that you do not want to be part of the Settlement, and do not want to receive a payment or release claims you might have against Bank of Hawaii for the claims alleged in this lawsuit.

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  19. When did the Court decide to approve the Settlement?

    The Court entered the Final Approval Order for this Settlement on December 22, 2020.

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  20. What happens if I did nothing at all?

    If you did nothing at all, and if the Settlement is approved, then you may receive a payment that represents your share of the Settlement Fund net of attorneys’ fees, Claims Administrator's expenses, and the Named Plaintiff’s Service Award. You are considered a part of the Class, and you will have given up claims against Bank of Hawaii for the conduct alleged in this lawsuit. You have not given up any other claims you might have against Bank of Hawaii that are not part of this lawsuit.

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  21. Do I have a lawyer in this case?

    The Court ordered that the lawyers and their law firms referred to in the Notice as “Class Counsel” will represent you and the other Class Members.

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  22. Do I have to pay the lawyer for accomplishing this result?

    No. Class Counsel will be paid directly from the Settlement Fund (see FAQ 11).

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  23. Who determined the amount of the attorneys’ fees?

    The Court was asked to approve the amount of attorneys’ fees at the Final Approval Hearing. Class Counsel filed an application for fees and costs and specified the amount being sought as discussed above in FAQ 11. You may review a copy of the fee application available here.

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  24. How do I get more information?

    This website and the Notice only summarize the Settlement. More details are contained in the Settlement Agreement, which can be viewed/obtained here.

    For additional information about the Settlement, or to change your address for purposes of receiving a payment, you should contact the Claims Administrator as follows:

    Smith v. Bank of Hawaii Claims Administrator
    P.O. Box 4349
    Portland, OR 97208-4349

    For more information you also can contact the Class Counsel as follows:

    Margery S. Bronster
    Robert M. Hatch
    Bronster Fujichaku Robbins
    1003 Bishop Street
    Suite 2300
    Honolulu, HI 96813
     1-808-524-5644
     mbronster@bfrhawaii.com
     rhatch@bfrhawaii.com
    Richard D. McCune
    McCune Wright Arevalo LLP
    3281 E. Guasti Road
    Ste. 100
    Ontario, CA 91761
     1-909-557-1250
     rdm@mccunewright.com
    Taras Kick
    The Kick Law Firm, APC
    815 Moraga Drive
    Los Angeles, CA 90049
     1-310-395-2988
     taras@kicklawfirm.com

    PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT THE COURT OR ANY REPRESENTATIVE OF THE DEFENDANT CONCERNING THE SETTLEMENT.

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