A lawsuit was filed Tuesday against Washington Mutual Bank in Los Angeles County Superior Court by class-action lawyers who allege the Seattle-based savings and loan systematically overcharged California customers who had agreed to allow funds to be withdrawn electronically to make their mortgage payments.
The lead plaintiff is Washington Mutual customer Manish Harpalani of Sunnyvale, Calif., who contends that over the course of several days in January 2002 the company withdrew four times the amount needed to cover his home-loan payment.
Though he eventually was repaid, Harpalani said Washington Mutual never accounted for its use of the funds.
Thousands of other Californians had similar problems, according to the lawsuit filed by Westlake Village law firm Masry & Vititoe in conjunction with the Tampa, Fla., firm James, Hoyer, Newcomer & Smiljanich.
The lawsuit seeks class-action status, which would allow other Washington Mutual customers with complaints similar to Harpalani's to be included as plaintiffs. The suit is seeking unspecified damages.
A spokesman for the thrift's parent company, Washington Mutual Inc., which isn't named as a defendant, couldn't be reached for comment late Tuesday.
Washington Mutual also was sued Tuesday in Minneapolis for allegedly overcharging customers who repaid their mortgages ahead of time, Bloomberg News reported.