A federal judge has approved a $39-million settlement in a long-running class-action lawsuit against H&R; Block Inc. by customers who claimed they paid too much for refund anticipation loans.
“I conclude that the settlement in this case is fair and reasonable,” U.S. District Judge Elaine E. Bucklo said in an order issued Monday approving the third effort to reach a settlement in the suit, which has dragged on since 1998.
Block and a co-defendant, Beneficial National Bank -- now part of London-based HSBC -- will split the $39-million payment.
Beneficial funded the loans that were offered through H&R; Block offices.
The loans in question were part of a program under which customers who had their taxes prepared by Block were offered refunds immediately in return for a fee. The suit said the refunds amounted to loans and cost too much.