A Houston federal judge will decide if a $38 billion federal lawsuit against Capital One Bank will head to a jury trial. The suit could result in a substantial capital infusion in minority communities if the plaintiffs prevail.

During recent court hearings, plaintiff counsel Benjamin L. Hall III said that Capital One made a $180 billion pledge to minority communities in 2011-2012 if bank regulators approved its purchase of ING in a multi-billion-dollar transaction – $38 billion of which Hall argued belonged to minority communities in Texas.

Capital One reportedly abandoned the pledge after it acquired ING and began closing down bank branches and jettisoning its mortgage business from minority communities.

The plaintiffs are arguing to U.S. Federal Judge Alfred Bennett that Capital One Bank has deliberately discriminated against minority communities in violation of federal banking and housing laws.

National banks like Capital One are required to service the banking needs of minority communities in their service areas pursuant to the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977. The suit documents reveal that out of millions of minorities in the Houston area in 2016 Capital One Bank managed to approve only one loan for a Black customer and none to any non-white Hispanic.

Plaintiffs have also filed court papers showing that Capital One is disproportionately closing its branch banks in predominately Black and Brown communities while still opening branches in several predominately white Texas communities. The bank does not appear to dispute the charge; but rather responds that customers seem to prefer online banking instead on branch banking.

Plaintiffs in the suit are individual members of the local community like the Houston NAACP’s Dr. James Douglas and Yolanda Smith and Mary Ramos. LULAC has also joined the suit as a plaintiff. In addition, a former employee of Capital One, Laurie Vignaud, is a named plaintiff in the suit.

Vignaud is a Black female who worked for the bank for nearly two decades and complained about the bank’s alleged discriminatory practices toward minority communities. The bank fired Vignaud and she has sued the bank for retaliating against her for fighting for minorities.

The Defender has learned that Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Push Coalition is slated to join the lawsuit as a plaintiff in the coming days. Jackson described the suit as one of the last acts needed in this country to obtain economic equality.

He likened the suit to the Montgomery bus boycott in its importance to hold banks and bank regulators accountable for their discriminatory conduct. Hall commented that the addition of Rev. Jackson and the Rainbow Push Coalition to the suit is “monumental.”

The bank has moved to dismiss the lawsuit. Judge Bennett is expected to issue an order on the bank’s motion in the near future.