F.N.B. Corp., Hermitage, and two sets of customers who charged it with manipulating the processing of debit transactions in order to make the greatest mount of money from overdraft fees have reached a tentative settlement that could result in up to $3 million being paid to certain bank customers.

The parties reported Nov. 29 the case was settled in principal and filed a status report with the court Dec. 6 saying they have been making progress on the details.

The sides were supposed to have a proposed class-action settlement to a judge for review by Friday, but have asked for a 45-day extension.

Aside from details yet to be worked out, an expert has been hired to review millions of pages of transactions from six years of deposit accounts to determine which customers are eligible for payments from the settlement pool.

Two sets of plaintiffs, Kimberly and Kevin Ord of Huntingdon County, Pa., and Joan Clarey of Pittsburgh filed individual suits alleging the same conduct. The cases were consolidated in U.S. District Court, Pittsburgh.

The suits alleged F.N.B. “resequenced” debit transactions - processed them out of chronological order - so that the bank could collect more overdraft fees.

The Ords included in their lawsuit a list of 13 debit card transactions made on Sept. 19, 2011. If F.N.B. had deducted the transactions from the Ords’ account starting with the lowest dollar value and deducting the other transactions in order of ascending dollar value, ending with the highest, they would have been charged one, $34 overdraft fee. However, F.N.B. deducted them from highest dollar value to lowest, depleting the account more quickly and resulting in overdraft fees on each of the last four transactions, a total of $148.

Resequencing transactions is not illegal but the FDIC issued to its member banks a November 2010 “guidance” paper on overdraft payment programs that recommended banks be “especially vigilant with respect to product over-use that may harm consumers.”

The practice has been the subject of lawsuits against larger financial institutions that resulted in settlements in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

F.N.B. did not deny the practice, but said the couple is trying to impose state regulations on a nationally chartered bank and that a contract dictates their relationship. The bank said it can post transactions in any manner it chooses.

The status report said that the parties “do not admit or concede any allegation, assertion or contention made in the ... litigation.”

According to the parties, the settlement calls for F.N.B. to create a $3 million settlement fund, from which attorney’s fees and expenses will be deducted, with court approval, with the rest going to eligible customers.

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