An out-of-court settlement has been reached in a lawsuit that alleged Wells Fargo and one of its mortgage bankers in Mankato mistakenly outed the family of a rape victim given refuge in the state's Safe at Home protection program, an attorney for the plaintiffs said Monday.
"After a lengthy sit-down meeting with representatives of Wells Fargo and their attorney, we were able to come to a fair and reasonable settlement" of the suit, filed in early May, said plaintiffs' attorney Randy Knutson.
Terms of the settlement were not revealed. Knutson added, "but I can say that the settlement will allow our clients to move forward and safeguard their location in the future."
The attorney said that the settlement also helps ensure that "the same thing will not happen to others in the Safe at Home program."
Wells Fargo spokesman John Hobot said Monday that the company would only say that "the lawsuit has been settled on terms that are acceptable to both sides."
While the details are confidential, the two sides agreed they would be responsible for their own expenses, according to court records.
The bank's missteps began soon after the mother applied for a mortgage on a new home in November 2016, four months after her daughter was assaulted and while the defendant was out on bail, according to the suit, which was filed in Blue Earth County District Court.
Mail bearing the mother's name, from Wells Fargo and from others targeting her as a new homeowner, began showing up at what was supposed to be a secret location, the suit alleged.
Despite the repeated pleas, the identifying mailings "never stopped," the young woman said in an interview with the Star Tribune soon after the suit was filed. "We got junk mail addressed to us from places all around, and that's when we knew they sold our information. It just made our fear escalate higher and higher."
The suit contended that the mail from senders other than the bank "was a sign that [the family's] information had been sold by Wells Fargo Home Mortgage to outside vendors."
The mother and her daughter enrolled in the Safe at Home program after "the alleged perpetrator threatened to kill [them] before they could testify," according to a supplemental court filing.
Knutson, the family's attorney, said the assailant was sentenced last fall and set free after getting credit for three months of time served.
The Safe at Home program began in September 2007 and is open to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and to others who fear for their safety, including law enforcement and judicial personnel. Roughly 8,000 people have been in the program since its inception; there are about 2,800 people in it now, according to the Secretary of State's Office.