Mary Glover, a Pittsburgh-area homeowner living on Social Security disability income, is taking on Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo, charging that they've violated federal and state consumer protection laws and breached contracts.
Yet, because of a decision by one judge, she and thousands of homeowners like her could be priced out of their ability to fight back in court against shady dealings by the nation's biggest banks. And while the decision in this case may seem exceptional, as Dahlia Lithwick and others have pointed out, it's part of a disturbing pattern of the courts shutting their doors to everyday litigants and class-action suits—and in some cases, literally handing corporations a playbook on how to get away with screwing over the little guy.
As she and her attorneys attempt to get Wells Fargo and Goldman to hand over documents relevant to her case, the banks' repeated stalling caused the judge to appoint a “special master” over the case—and required Glover to split the fees for this outside attorney equally with the defendants, banks with billions to spare (and, of course, billions in bailouts from the federal government as well).
“It's a David and Goliath situation. When you escalate the costs, there's simply no way that a low-income litigant can keep up,” attorney Scott Michelman, with Public Citizen's Litigation Group, told AlterNet. Michelman and Public Citizen are representing Ms. Glover in a new federal lawsuit filed in the Third District Court of Appeals on May 24, charging that the appointment of the special master in this case will effectively stifle Ms. Glover's ability to go forward with her claims.