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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

District Court sides with bank in class-action suit against foreign currency swap overcharges

Courts Virginia Standing Consumer Protection Data Breach


On March 5, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia dismissed a purported class action complaint in which plaintiffs alleged the defendant banks used “fictional” foreign exchange rates that deviated from those incorporated into plaintiffs’ agreements with the defendants. Specifically, the plaintiffs asserted that defendants charged the plaintiffs “fictional” rates imposed by credit card companies, and in so doing, breached their relevant contracts with the plaintiffs and violated several state consumer protection laws.

In dismissing the complaint, the court concluded that although the plaintiffs had standing to sue, their breach of contract claim failed as a matter of law because the complaint failed to identify any specific promises regarding exchange rates in the relevant contracts, and a singular reference to credit card companies’ rules did not incorporate such rules into the relevant contracts. The court further rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that an agency relationship existed between the credit card companies and defendants, reasoning that the plaintiffs failed to plausibly demonstrate defendants had any ability to control the rates. 

The court similarly dismissed all the plaintiffs’ consumer protection law claims, concluding that the relevant laws did not permit for a breach of contract to serve as the basis for an unfair or deceptive trade practice.