Justia Consumer Law Opinion Summaries

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In May 2017, plaintiff Joseph Mejia bought a used motorcycle from Defendant DACM, Inc. (Del Amo) for $5,500. Mejia paid $500 cash and financed the remainder of the purchase price with a WebBank-issued Yamaha credit card he obtained through the dealership purchasing the motorcycle. In applying for the credit card, Mejia signed a credit application acknowledging he had received and read WebBank’s Yamaha Credit Card Account Customer Agreement (the credit card agreement), which contained an arbitration provision. Sometime after his purchase, Mejia filed a complaint against Del Amo on behalf of himself and other similarly situated consumers alleging Del Amo “has violated and continues to violate” the Rees-Levering Automobile Sales Finance Act by failing to provide its customers with a single document setting forth all the financing terms for motor vehicle purchases made with a conditional sale contract. The trial court denied Del Amo’s petition to compel arbitration, finding the arbitration provision was unenforceable under McGill v. Citibank, N.A., 2 Cal.5th 945 (2017) because it barred the customer from pursuing “in any forum” his claim for a public injunction to stop Del Amo’s allegedly illegal practices. Del Amo contended the trial court erred in ruling the arbitration provision was unenforceable under McGill, arguing: (1) McGill did not apply because, due to a choice-of-law provision in the contract, Utah law rather than California law governed the dispute; (2) if California law applied, the arbitration provision “does not run afoul of McGill” because Mejia did not seek a public injunction; (3) the arbitration clause was not unenforceable under McGill because the provision did not prevent a plaintiff from seeking public injunctive relief in all fora; and (4) if the arbitration provision was unenforceable under McGill, the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preempted McGill and required enforcement of the clause. The Court of Appeal found no merit to any of Del Amo's contentions and affirmed the district court's order. View "Mejia v. DACM Inc." on Justia Law

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David Murray purchased used computer equipment worth nearly $40,000, which was damaged by the United Postal Service (UPS) while it was being transported from California to Texas. Murray believed he purchased appropriate insurance to cover this loss, but the insurance company denied his claim. Murray sued his insurance broker, UPS Capital Insurance Agency (UPS Capital), for breach of contract and negligence, claiming UPS Capital owed him a special duty to make the insurance policy language understandable to an ordinary person and to explain the scope of coverage. The court granted UPS Capital’s motion for summary judgment after concluding there was no heightened duty of care and dismissed Murray’s lawsuit. On appeal, Murray asked the Court of Appeal to create a new rule that brokers/agents, specializing in a specific field of insurance, hold themselves out as experts, and are subject to a heightened duty of care towards clients seeking that particular kind of insurance. While the Court declined the invitation to create a per se rule, it concluded Murray raised triable issues of fact as to whether UPS Capital undertook a special duty by holding itself out as having expertise in inland marine insurance, and Murray reasonably relied on its expertise. Therefore, the Court reversed the judgment of dismissal and remanded the matter for further proceedings. View "Murray v. UPS Capital Ins. Agency, Inc." on Justia Law

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California’s automatic renewal law, Bus. & Prof. Code 17600, requires a consumer’s affirmative consent to any subscription agreement automatically renewed for a new term when the initial term ends and requires “clear and conspicuous” disclosure of the offer terms, and an “easy-to-use mechanism for cancellation.” Mayron sued Google on behalf of a putative class, alleging that Google’s subscription data storage plan violates the automatic renewal law: “Google Drive” allows users (those registered for a Google account) to remotely store electronic data that can be accessed from any computer, smartphone, or similar device. There is no charge for 15 gigabytes of storage capacity. For a $1.99 monthly fee, users can upgrade to 100 gigabytes of storage. Plaintiff alleged Google did not provide the required clear and conspicuous disclosures nor obtain his affirmative consent to commence a recurring monthly subscription agreement and did not adequately explain how to cancel, and alleged unfair competition, Bus. & Prof. Code 17200.The court of appeal affirmed the dismissal of the complaint. There is no private right of action for violation of the automatic renewal law and, because Mayron has not alleged an injury caused by Google’s conduct, he has no standing to sue under the unfair competition statute. View "Mayron v. Google LLC" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal, based on Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), of plaintiff's amended complaint alleging that defendants violated Connecticut and District of Columbia law in entering into a licensing agreement with respect to a group plan for Medicare supplement insurance. Plaintiff claimed that defendants' royalty fee arrangement constituted an unlawful "premium rebate" in violation of Connecticut and District of Columbia anti-rebating insurance laws.The court held that plaintiff did not state an unlawful rebate claim under Connecticut or D.C. law because he failed to plausibly allege any ascertainable loss or injury as a result of his purchase of Medicare supplement insurance ("Medigap") or the AARP royalty fee. Likewise, the court held that plaintiff failed to plausibly allege a cognizable claim based on his purchase of Medigap insurance through the AARP-UnitedHealthcare plan. In regard to plaintiff's consumer protection claims, he failed to show any concrete and particularized injury because he paid only the regulator-approved rate and received the Medigap insurance he contracted for. Finally, plaintiff failed to plausibly allege the requisite elements for his remaining common law claims and his statutory theft claim under Connecticut law. View "Dane v. UnitedHealthcare Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims against Equifax and Experian under the Fair Credit Reporting Act after the consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) deleted a favorable credit item from his credit report and refused to restore it. The court held that plaintiff's 15 U.S.C. 1681e(b) claim fails where this provision does not hold a CRA strictly liable for all inaccuracies, Rather, the adequacy of a CRA's procedures is judged according to what a reasonably prudent person would do under the circumstances. In this case, the omission of a single credit item does not render a report inaccurate or misleading, and plaintiff has not alleged that the CRAs violated their stated disclosure policies or maintained an undisclosed policy of deleting certain favorable items.The court also held that plaintiff's section 1681i(a) claim fails because plaintiff disputed the completeness of his credit report, not of an item in that report. Therefore, plaintiff did not trigger the CRA's section 1681i(a) obligation to investigate. Finally, plaintiff's section 1681i(a)(5)(B)(ii) claim fails because Equifax had no duty to notify plaintiff where Equifax had not removed the credit item, and amending the pleading would be futile. View "Hammer v. Equifax Information Services, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Dish Networks in plaintiff's action for breach of contract and violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Plaintiff alleges that Dish negligently and willfully violated the FCRA by requesting and obtaining a consumer report from a consumer reporting agency after an identity thief fraudulently submitted some of plaintiff's personal information to Dish. Plaintiff also alleges that Dish's actions violated a settlement agreement that the parties signed after a similar incident occurred several years ago involving the same parties.The court held that Dish had a "legitimate business purpose" under the FCRA when it obtained plaintiff's consumer report. The court also held that Dish did not violate the settlement agreement where the district court correctly found that plaintiff's claim failed to establish the breach element. View "Domante v. Dish Networks, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Red Oak Apartment Homes, LLC, appealed a superior court decision dismissing its complaint against defendant Strategis Floor & Decor, Inc. (Strategis), and dismissing plaintiff’s claims against Strategis on grounds that the court lacked personal jurisdiction. Plaintiff contracted with New Hampshire-based Holmes Carpet Center, LLC to install plank-style flooring in approximately 195 of its apartment units. Holmes recommended vinyl plank flooring that it represented would withstand rental use for many years. The majority of the floors installed by Holmes consisted of Versaclic LVT vinyl plank flooring manufactured by Strategis. The flooring was sold with a fifty-year warranty for residential applications. Shortly after the flooring was installed, plaintiff’s residents and employees began noticing that the flooring was shifting and large gaps were appearing between the flooring planks, near walls, and in doorway thresholds. Holmes performed repair work on the flooring in two of the affected units. Plaintiff thereafter filed a complaint in New Hampshire against Holmes, alleging breach of contract and violations of the Consumer Protection Act. Plaintiff amended its complaint to add: (1) N.R.F. Distributors, Inc. (N.R.F.), a flooring distributor that sold the flooring at issue to Holmes and, although a foreign corporation, was registered to do business in New Hampshire and had a registered business address in Augusta, Maine; (2) eight other defendants, seven of whom were subcontractors hired by Holmes to perform the flooring installation at plaintiff’s properties; and (3) Strategis, a foreign corporation with a principal business address in Quebec, Canada, that marketed and sold the flooring to N.R.F. The New Hampshire Supreme Court concurred with the trial court that plaintiff failed to establish Strategis, through in-state contacts, purposefully availed itself of the protection of New Hampshire's laws. None of Strategis' actions, either separately or jointly, constituted purposeful availment sufficient for the court to exercise personal jurisdiction. Thus, the Court affirmed dismissal of plaintiff's complaint against Strategis. View "Red Oak Apartment Homes, LLC v. Strategis Floor & Decor, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that C&I violated various provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) by sending him a debt collection notice, information subpoena, subpoena duces tecum, and restraining notices in connection with C&I's efforts to collect on a state court judgment for an unpaid debt, though plaintiff was not the debtor.The Second Circuit held that the district court erred in granting summary judgment to C&I as to the bona fide error defense under Section 1692k(c) of the FDCPA. In this case, a reasonable jury could find that C&I's error was not bona fide and that C&I did not maintain procedures reasonably adapted to avoid its error. Accordingly, the court vacated the order and judgment, remanding for further proceedings. However, the court otherwise affirmed the judgment, holding that C&I's conduct did not violate Sections 1692e(5) where C&I unintentionally sent otherwise valid and lawful debt collection communications to a non-debtor. Furthermore, C&I did not violate Section 1692f where its conduct did not constitute unfair or unconscionable means of debt collect. View "Wagner v. Chiari & Ilecki, LLP" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Cheryl Thurston and Luis Licea (collectively Thurston) were California residents who purchased items from defendant Fairfield Collectibles of Georgia, LLC (Fairfield), a Georgia limited liability company, through the company's website. Thurston alleged Fairfield’s website was not fully accessible by the blind and the visually impaired, in violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act. The trial court granted Fairfield’s motion to quash service of summons, ruling that California could not obtain personal jurisdiction over Fairfield, because Fairfield did not have sufficient minimum contacts with California. The Court of Appeal reversed, finding the evidence showed that Fairfield made some eight to ten percent of its sales to Californians. "Hence, its website is the equivalent of a physical store in California. Moreover, this case arises out of the operation of that website." The trial court therefore could properly exercise personal jurisdiction over Fairfield. View "Thurston v. Fairfield Collectibles of Georgia, LLC" on Justia Law

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The underlying lawsuit arose from plaintiffs' claim that Ken's salad dressing labels were deceptive. In June 2017, plaintiffs served Ken's with their prelawsuit notice and demand to remove claims about olive oil from the labels on its salad dressings. In October 2017, a neutral case evaluator concluded that plaintiffs' claims likely had merit and that the False Advertising Law and Unfair Competition Law claims would likely be certified as a class. In November 2017, Ken's drafted a PowerPoint presentation that described plaintiff's claims, proposed label changes, and thereafter revised its salad dressing labels and finalized the changes in 2018.The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's order granting plaintiffs' motion for attorney fees. The court held that the trial court did not err by concluding that plaintiffs were "successful parties" where the sequence of events provides a reasonable basis for the trial court's conclusion that plaintiffs' lawsuit was a catalyst motivating Ken's to change the labels on its salad dressings. Furthermore, there was a reasonable basis for the trial court to conclude that injunctive relief was the primary relief sought. The court also held that the lawsuit was meritorious and that plaintiffs reasonably attempted to settle the matter short of litigation. Finally, the court rejected Ken's public policy argument. View "Skinner v. Ken's Foods, Inc." on Justia Law