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Gregory is a partner in Balch & Bingham’s Birmingham office and serves as chair of the Financial Services Litigation Practice Group.  His practice centers on commercial litigation, with a concentration on complex litigation. Since joining Balch & Bingham LLP in 1991, Mr. Cook has focused his practice in the area of business and financial services litigation, including concentrating on class action defense (he has been involved in defending over 60 class actions). More recently, Mr. Cook has defended a number of actions and class actions arising out of the mortgage and subprime crisis, including matters for loan servicers, lenders, title insurance agents and settlement services providers. Mr. Cook is listed in Best Lawyers in commercial litigation, has been rated "AV" by Martindale Hubbell and was selected by Super Lawyers in Business Litigation.

In early November, we wrote about a new Eleventh Circuit decision on Article III standing law which directly held that it was not enough to allege a statutory violation and instead there must be a concrete injury to sustain an action in federal court. Muranksy v. Godiva Chocolatier, Inc., 979 F. 3d 917 (11th

This Tuesday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed course on an emerging trend of case law concerning the ascertainability standard for class actions under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23, holding proof of administrative feasibility in identifying absent class members was not required at the class certification stage.

This debate has

Last night, Congress passed a new COVID-19 stimulus package containing an important amendment to the CARES Act which should foreclose any possibility the Plaintiffs in the Agent Fee class actions currently pending across the country can successfully argue banks must pay them “agent fees” for preparing PPP loan applications. The amendment establishes that, contrary to

Earlier this year, Balch & Bingham reported on the dismissal of one of the first class actions challenging financial institutions for charging multiple “overdraft” or not sufficient funds (“NSF”) fees for the same transaction or “item.” In these cases, Plaintiffs allege financial institutions may only charge an overdraft fee once for each “item” – be it a debit, check, draft, withdrawal, ACH payment request, etc. – no matter how many times merchants represent the transaction or item to the bank for payment. Last week, the Tennessee Court of Appeals became the first appellate court to affirm the dismissal of one of these cases.
Continue Reading Tennessee Court of Appeals Becomes First Appellate Court to Affirm Dismissal of Class Action Challenging Multiple “Overdraft” or NSF Fees for Same Transaction or “Item.”

The federal courts have been struggling for several years to clarify Article III standing law. Is it enough that a plaintiff satisfy the elements of a federal consumer protection statute? Is it enough that a data breach have happened? Or, must the plaintiff show that they have actually been damaged or that there is a substantial risk that they will be damaged? On October 28, 2020 the Eleventh Circuit handed down a sharply split en banc decision applying the U.S. Supreme Court’s Article III standing decision, Spokeo Inc. v. Robins, 136 S. Ct. 1540 (2016). The court held directly held that it is not enough that a statutory violation have occurred. Even though defendant Godiva Chocolates violated the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (“FACTA”), the Court held that the named class plaintiff lacked standing to bring the action because he did not allege any concrete injury.

Continue Reading Giving Teeth to Article III Standing Requirements in the Eleventh Circuit.

Earlier this year, Balch & Bingham reported on the wave of “Agent Fee” class actions against lenders who made PPP loans under the CARES Act. At one point, there were over sixty such lawsuits, spread across the federal courts, alleging that banks were required to pay CPAs and others who assisted borrowers with loan applications.  Since then, however, virtually every ruling has been in favor of the banks, and now there is real reason to question whether these suits will continue.

Continue Reading RETREAT! “Agent Fee” Class Actions Moving Against Plaintiffs

In a landmark decision Monday, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida dismissed a putative class action involving “agent fees” for Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loans under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act. This lawsuit, Sport & Wheat CPA, PA v. Servisfirst Bank et al., No. 3:20-cv-05425-TKW-HTC (N.D. Fla.) claimed to represent a class of accounting firms and other consultants that allegedly worked as agents on behalf of applicants for PPP loans – typically small business clients. Plaintiff contended the CARES Act and implementing regulations required lenders to pay them “agent fees” for preparing loan applications.

Continue Reading Florida Judge Dismisses First-Filed PPP Agent Fee Class Action, Holds the CARES Act Contains No Requirement Agents be Paid

On Wednesday, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation rejected consolidation of 62 class actions involving Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loans under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act in a multidistrict litigation (“MDL”).  These actions claim to represent a class of accounting firms (and other consultants) that allegedly worked as agents on behalf of applicants for PPP loans – typically small business clients. Plaintiffs contend the CARES Act and implementing regulations require lenders to pay them “agent fees” for preparing loan applications.

Continue Reading Lenders Gain Big Win Resisting MDL Consolidation in PPP Agent Fees Class Action Litigation

In In Re: Bay Circle Properties, LLC., No. 1812536, 2020 WL 1696303 (Ala. April 8, 2020), the Eleventh Circuit dismissed an appeal by a guarantor alleging a wrongful foreclosure, because the guarantor did not own the foreclosed property and therefore lacked Article III standing.  Here are the facts:  Debtor owed for two loans,