Bloomberg News

NASHVILLE — Bank One Corp. has been hit with a lawsuit charging that it deceived customers by waiting until it could charge late fees before posting some auto lease payments.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Nashville on behalf of Joyce Cope, a Tennessee resident who leased a vehicle through the No. 5 U.S. banking company’s auto finance subsidiary.

Ms. Cope’s lawyer, Peter Klett, a partner in the firm of Stewart, Estes & Donnell, said she was charged late fees even though Bank One Kentucky Vehicle Leasing Co., based in Louisville, received her payments before penalties could legally be triggered. Mr. Klett is seeking class-action status for the case, which also claims that the company failed to disclose the fees.

Mr. Klett said other Bank One customers in Kentucky and Tennessee were harmed. “We anticipate there are thousands of customers elsewhere affected by this,” he said.

The lawsuit, which claims Bank One violated federal and Tennessee consumer protection laws, seeks repayment of the late fees and other damages.

Stan Lata, a Bank One spokesman, declined to comment.

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