A proposed class action federal lawsuit on overtime pay led by an Orange County appraiser against Bank of America has been settled for $5.8 million, an attorney representing the plaintiffs said today.
The settlement covers about 350 "review appraisers," who oversee appraisers, said attorney Bryan Schwartz, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of La Habra resident Mike Galaz, who worked out of offices in Whittier and Orange. The plaintiffs will receive an average of about $10,000 each as part of the settlement, Schwartz said.
The Oakland-based attorney also represents about 700 appraisers, who were also part of the lawsuit filed in Santa Ana. That case will be up for a class-certification hearing May 19, Schwartz said.
Schwartz filed the claim for appraisers last April on behalf of Terry Boyd, a former Bank of America and its in-house appraisal firm, LandSafe Inc., appraiser affiliated with the Ladera Ranch office who lives in Trabuco Canyon.
Schwartz argued in the lawsuit that the appraisers should not be classified as administrators, which would exempt them from overtime pay, because they do not have the authority to make administrative decisions about the value of the properties they evaluate.
The appraisers have formulas they have been issued to determine the value of property and do not have the authority to deviate from it, Schwartz said.
Bank officials have claimed the appraisers are not entitled to overtime and breaks because they are company administrators or are "learned professionals," Schwartz said. Schwartz, however, said that applies to occupations requiring an advanced degree or significant academic study while appraisers can get a job with just a high school diploma, an apprenticeship and several weeks of classes.
Bank of America issued the following statement about the settlement.
"We are pleased to bring this matter to resolution. LandSafe continues to believe its past decision to classify staff appraisal reviewers as exempt was correct and denies any liability; however, we view the settlement of claims related to this group as a fair resolution and have agreed to settle to avoid further legal costs."
Schwartz filed a similar federal lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase last April. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered that case to mediation.
--City News Service