|ATLANTA, GA: (May 11, 2020) – Attorneys from Heninger Garrison Davis, LLC’s class-action group filed a class action complaint against a number of banks for failure to pay agents who assisted with the preparation and filing of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) applications on behalf of Alliant CPA Group, LLC, individually and on behalf of a class of similarly situated businesses and individuals.
The defendants listed in the 36-page complaint include the following: Bank Of America, Corp., Bank Of America, N.A., Ameris Bank, Bank Ozk, Cadence Bancorporation, Cadence Bank, N.A., Centerstate Bank Corporation, Centerstate Bank, N.A., Newton Federal Bank, Synovus Bank, Truist Financial Corp., Truist Bank, United Community Bank, Inc., United Community Bank (Georgia), Wells Fargo And Company, And Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (Defendants).
The class-action lawsuit alleges the defendants have overstepped Small Business Administration (SBA) mandates by refusing to pay or not paying full statutory fees to accountants, consultants, loan brokers, or other representations who helped clients file PPP loan applications.
According to the complaint, on March 25, 2020, in response to the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 crisis, the United States Senate passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the CARES Act as a means for small businesses to receive federally backed, forgivable loans to assist with battling economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Though backed by the SBA, the PPP was to be administered through private lenders such as the defendants, who, in return for administering a PPP loan, would receive between one- and five-percent fees depending on the size of the loan, the case explains.
The SBA Regulations include not only compensation for Lenders, but also agents including an attorney, accountant, consultant, employee of the borrower who prepares their employer’s application, anyone who assists a lender in relation to an SBA loan, loan broker, or any other individual who represents an applicant in its business with the SBA. These agents, including plaintiffs, were to be paid for their services by the PPP lender through a portion of the funds it received from the SBA.
According to the lawsuit, despite SBA regulations, the defendants have either refused to pay PPP agents as a matter of policy or have agreed to pay only a percentage of the fees owed. Additionally, the defendants effectively denied payment of PPP Agent Fees by making it impossible to indicate that Agent Fees were due, refusing to accept relevant SBA Forms, and/or refusing to allow the applicant to indicate that a PPP Agent assisted the applicant.
Attorneys for the Plaintiffs in this lawsuit are asking for relief for the Plaintiffs including equitable recoverable compensatory, statutory, and other damages.
Heninger Garrison Davis Partner, James McDonough, sums it up like this, “Unfortunately, this is another case where the banks saw an opportunity to take from the very businesses that were intended to benefit from the PPP program—like the small CPA and accounting businesses that are our clients in these lawsuits—in order to fatten their wallets. We look forward to the Courts making the banks pay our clients for their work in getting funding into the hands of those who needed it the most.”
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