SAN FRANCISCO -- BankAmerica Corp. has won a tentative dismissal of a multibillion-dollar credit card price-fixing suit filed against it. But the judge in the case said he would consider further evidence that could still allow the case to go to trial.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge William Cahill on Wednesday granted BankAmerica's motion in the six-year-old case, ruling that the plaintiffs had not produced enough evidence to take the case to a jury. But he gave the plaintiffs' lawyers until Sept. 28 to come up with more specific proof of wrongdoing, leaving an opening for a possible trial.
The suit, which involves potential liability for BankAmerica of more than $2 billion, contends that the bank conspired with other institutions beginning in the 1960s to keep credit card interest rates artificially high. It specifically alleges that BankAmerica overcharged customers as much as $763 million between 1982 and 1986.
Wells Fargo & Co. and First Interstate Bancorp, BankAmerica's co-defendants, earlier this year agreed to pay about $55 million to settle the case. The two companies said they settled to avoid an unpredictable jury trial.
Following Wednesday's ruling, a spokesman for BankAmerica said he doubted the plaintiffs would be able to convince the court to let the case go forward, saying, "We don't believe they are going to be able to make a case."
But Lawrence J. Appel, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said he expected a trial. "The judge wants a better explanation of what this case is about," Mr. Appel said. "I think the judge will let the case go to a jury."