Justia Consumer Law Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiffs are commercial truck drivers who received citations for violating state vehicle safety laws. State officials reported these citations to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for inclusion in the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS), 49 U.S.C. 31106(a)(3)(B). After state courts dismissed misdemeanor charges arising from the citations, the drivers asked the Administration to remove them from the MCMIS. The Administration forwarded the requests to the relevant state agencies, which declined to remove the citations. The drivers later authorized the release of their PreEmployment Screening Program (PSP) reports to prospective employers.The drivers allege harm from the inclusion of their citations in the PSP reports and sought damages under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. 1681e. The drivers alleged that the Administration violated FCRA by not following reasonable procedures to ensure that their PSP reports were as accurate as possible, by failing to investigate the accuracy of their PSP reports upon request, and by refusing to add a statement of dispute to their PSP reports. The D.C. Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. The Administration, in releasing MCMIS records as required by the SAFE Transportation Act, is not a “consumer reporting agency” under FCRA. View "Mowrer v. Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of TitleMax of Nevada, Inc. and declaring that TitleMax's practice of "refinancing" did not violate either Nev. Rev. Stat. 604A.5074 or Nev. Rev. Stat. 604A.065, holding that the court erred in part.In 2018, the Nevada Department of Business and Industry, Financial Institutions Division (FID) issued several Records of Examination stating that TitleMax's "refinances" were actually "extensions" that violated the extension provision in section 604A.5074(3)(c) and that TitleMax had underwritten loans that exceeded the fair market value of the securing vehicle. TitleMax sued, asking the district court to declare that refinancing a title loan does not amount to a prohibited extension. The district court granted summary judgment for TitleMax. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the extension prohibition on 210-day title loans includes refinances as a species of extension based on the plain language of section 604A.065; and (2) section 604A.5076(1) refers only to the principal amount of the loan. View "State, Department of Business & Industry v. TitleMax of Nevada, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court entering a final approval order approving a class settlement, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion.James Robinson brought this class action lawsuit against National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) alleging that NSC violated the statutory requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The parties negotiated a class action settlement providing for a settlement fund, injunctive relief, and a free self-certification report of university degrees and dates of enrollment for each class member. Paul Camarena, a class member, appealed from the district court's final order approving the class settlement. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Camarena's arguments were without merit. View "Robinson v. Camarena" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the ruling of the district court suppressing blood alcohol content evidence from a warrantless blood draw because no exigent circumstances were present, holding that the district court misapplied the law to the facts in this case.After a car accident that killed three people, a police officer ordered a warrantless blood of Defendant's blood without Defendant's consent and without exigent circumstances. The government charged Defendant with three counts of manslaughter and other intoxicated-driving crimes. Defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence from the warrantless blood draw, which the district court granted. The First Circuit reversed, holding that the government met its burden to show it was reasonable for the police officer to think exigent circumstances existed when he took the blood draw. View "United States v. Manubolu" on Justia Law

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Robbins defaulted on a debt to a hospital for services provided to her children. After MED-1, hired to collect the debt, filed a small-claims action, Robbins paid the $1,499 debt but refused to pay $375 attorney’s fees as required by the agreement she signed with the hospital. MED-1 then incurred more attorney’s fees (fees-on-fees) attempting to recover the initial attorney’s fees. The Indiana small-claims court ordered Robbins to pay both the initial attorney’s fees and the fees-on-fees. Robbins’s appeal initiated a de novo proceeding, so MED-1 filed a new complaint.Robbins filed a federal suit against MED-1 under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692–1692p. A magistrate stayed the case pending the outcome of the state case, which was eventually dismissed for failure to prosecute. In federal court, Robbins raised res judicata, arguing that the state court’s dismissal precluded MED-1 from claiming that the contract required her to pay attorney’s fees and fees-on-fees. Alternatively, she advanced an argument that she was not required to pay fees-on-fees and that MED-1 violated the Act by trying to collect sums she did not owe. The Seventh Circuit affirmed judgment for MED-1. The Indiana court’s dismissal does not have preclusive effect. Because Robbins’s contract with the hospital required her to pay all collection costs, including attorney’s fees, MED-1 did not violate the FDCPA by attempting to collect fees-on-fees. View "Robbins v. Med-1 Solutions, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of Appellant's petition seeking a writ of prohibition or mandamus ordering Judge Becky L. Doherty to dismiss third-party claims filed against him, holding that Appellant had an adequate remedy in the ordinary course of the law.Appellant, as an attorney for Dodeka, LLC, filed an action against Cindy Keith to recover approximately $11,000 that Keith allegedly owed. Keith filed an answer and counterclaims against Dodeka and impleaded Appellant as a third-party defendant. The trial court entered summary judgment dismissing Dodeka's claim against Keith and Keith's counterclaims against Dodeka. The trial court then granted summary judgment on the third-party claims Keith had filed against Appellant. The court of appeals reversed the dismissal of the counterclaims against Dodeka and the third-party claims against Appellant and remanded. The judge granted summary judgment for Dodeka and denied Appellant's motions to dismiss and for summary judgment as to the third-party claims. Appellant appealed the denial of his motions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant had an adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. View "State ex rel. Welt v. Doherty" on Justia Law

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In 1991, Congress prohibited almost all robocalls to cell phones and landlines, 47 U.S.C. 227(b)(1)(B). A 2015 amendment attempted to allow robocalls if they were made “solely to collect a debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States.” The Supreme Court, in AAPC, held the amendment was unconstitutional content discrimination but that the exception was severable from the rest of the restriction, leaving the general prohibition intact. In 2019-2020, Lindenbaum received two robocalls from Realgy advertising its electricity services. She sued, alleging violations of the robocall restriction. After the Supreme Court decided AAPC, the district court dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction reasoning that severability is a remedy that operates only prospectively, so the robocall restriction was unconstitutional and therefore “void” for the period the exception was on the books. Because it was “void,” the district court believed, it could not provide a basis for federal-question jurisdiction.The Sixth Circuit reversed. Because severance is not a remedy, it would have to be a legislative act in order to operate prospectively only. The Court recognized only that the Constitution had “automatically displace[d]” the government-debt-collector exception from the start, then interpreted what the statute has always meant in its absence. View "Lindenbaum v. Realgy, LLC" on Justia Law

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PRA hired Wadsworth and, in its offer letter, described a signing bonus: $3,750 payable after 30 days of employment, followed by another $3,750 after 180 days of employment. If Wadsworth voluntarily ended her employment or PRA fired her for cause within 18 months, she was obligated to repay the full bonus. Wadsworth collected both signing payments, but after she completed one year of employment, PRA fired her. Kross, a debt-collection agency, attempted to recover the bonus payments. Kross mailed Wadsworth a collection letter and a Kross employee called Wadsworth by telephone four times. Wadsworth sued Kross claiming that its letter and phone calls violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692, by failing to provide complete written notice of her statutory rights within five days of the initial communication and because the caller never identified herself as a debt collector.The district court entered summary judgment for Wadsworth. The Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded with instructions to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The alleged violations did not cause Wadsworth any concrete harm and allege nothing more than “bare procedural violation[s],” which Article III precludes courts from adjudicating. View "Wadsworth v. Kross, Lieberman & Stone, Inc" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the judgment of the district court against Bais Yaakov of Spring Valley, a small private high school on its action seeking injunctive relief and statutory damages against ACT, Inc., a non-profit entity that develops and administers the ACT college admissions test, holding that the district court erred in finding that Bais Yaakov's individual claim was rendered moot.In its complaint, Bais Yaakov claimed that three one-page faxes sent by ACT in 2012 were unsolicited advertisements sent in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCAP, 47 U.S.C. 227(b)(1)(C) and seeking injunctive relief and statutory damages in the amount of approximately $400 million dollars. After extended litigation, the district court concluded that class certification was unwarranted and that Bais Yaakov's individual claim was rendered moot by ACT's offer to pay the full amount of that claim and a promise not to sent further faxes to the high school. The First Circuit affirmed the denial of class certification and the dismissal of the claim for injunctive relief but otherwise vacated the judgment, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the proposed classes could not be certified or in denying injunctive relief; and (2) Bais Yaakov's damage claim was not moot. View "Bais Yaakov of Spring Valley v. ACT, Inc." on Justia Law

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On a Monday, Medicredit, a debt collection agency, received a letter from a consumer, plaintiff-appellee Elizabeth Lupia, demanding that it cease calling her about an unpaid medical debt. The next day, before Medicredit processed the letter, it called Ms. Lupia again about the debt. This call served as grounds for Ms. Lupia's suit under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). According to Medicredit, its Tuesday call was a bona fide error, thereby shielding the agency from liability. Lupia argued Medicredit’s policy allowed for more time than that: permitting up to three business days of lag time between its receipt and processing of mail (which was how long it took Medicredit to process the letter). For that, Lupia contended, Medicredit could not shield itself under the bona fide-error defense. The district court agreed and granted Lupia’s motion for summary judgment. On appeal, Medicredit challenged Lupia’s standing in federal court and claimed the district court committed several reversible errors in granting Lupia’s motion. After review, the Tenth Circuit found no merit in any of these claims, and affirmed the district court. View "Lupia v. Medicredit" on Justia Law