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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's order granting summary judgment for USA Funds, holding that the district court incorrectly determined that a reasonable jury could not hold USA Funds vicariously liable for the debt collectors' alleged Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) violations. The panel held that USA Funds was not per se vicariously liable under FCC orders. However, the panel held that, under federal common law, there were genuine issues of material fact as to whether USA Funds ratified the debt collectors' calling practices and thus had a principal-agent relationship with the debt collectors. View "Henderson v. United Student Aid Funds, Inc." on Justia Law

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Sixty-nine current and former residents of mobilehome park Terrace View Mobile Home Estates filed a lawsuit against the park's owners, Terrace View Partners, LP, Thomas Tatum, Jeffrey Kaplan, and management company, Mobile Community Management Company (collectively, defendants). The operative first amended complaint, styled as a class action, included 12 causes of action based on allegations that defendants' failure to maintain the park in "good working order and condition" created a nuisance that, along with unreasonably high space rent increases, made it difficult or impossible for park residents to sell their mobilehomes. After the court denied plaintiffs' motion for class certification, the parties and the court agreed to try the case in phases, with the first phase involving 16 residents living in 10 spaces in Terrace View. A first-phase jury returned a special verdict finding defendants liable and awarded the individual plaintiffs economic and noneconomic damages for: intentional interference with property rights, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, nuisance (based on substantially failing to enforce the park's rules and regulations), breach of contract/breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment, and negligence/negligence per se. The jury found defendants were not liable for nuisance based on failing to provide and maintain the park's common facilities and physical improvements in good working order and condition, and were not liable for elder financial abuse against five plaintiffs. After the jury was discharged, the court issued an order on plaintiffs' cause of action alleging defendants violated Business and Professions Code section 17200 et seq., the "unfair competition law" (UCL). The court ruled that a "catch-up" provision in defendants' long-term leases that could greatly increase rent at the end of a lease term was unfair in violation of the UCL. The judgment also reflected the court's rulings at the beginning of trial that certain other provisions in the parties' lease agreements violated California's Mobilehome Residency Law or were otherwise unlawful. Defendants appealed. The Court of Appeal concluded the jury's award of compensatory damages and punitive damages had to be reversed. Although the jury's award of economic damages may have included unspecified amounts that could be upheld on appeal if the special verdict form had segregated them, "it is clear from the record that the vast majority of the economic damages awarded represented reimbursement for overpayment of rent and diminution in value of homes caused by high rent. Because the award of such damages cannot be sustained under any of the theories of liability presented to the jury and it is impossible to sever any properly awarded damages from improperly awarded damages." The Court therefore reversed the entire award of compensatory damages and the attendant awards of punitive damages and attorney fees and costs to plaintiffs. View "Bevis v. Terrace View Partners, LP" on Justia Law

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The McCarthy law firm was hired to carry out a nonjudicial foreclosure on Obduskey’s Colorado home. Obduskey invoked the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) provision, 15 U.S.C. 1692g(b), providing that if a consumer disputes the amount of a debt, a “debt collector” must “cease collection” until it “obtains verification of the debt” and mails a copy to the debtor. Instead, McCarthy initiated a nonjudicial foreclosure action. The Tenth Circuit and Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of Obduskey’s suit, holding that McCarthy was not a “debt collector.” A business engaged in only nonjudicial foreclosure proceedings is not a “debt collector” under the FDCPA, except for the limited purpose of section 1692f(6). The FDCPA defines “debt collector” an “any person . . . in any business the principal purpose of which is the collection of any debts, or who regularly collects or attempts to collect, directly or indirectly, debts.” The limited-purpose definition states that “[f]or the purpose of section 1692f(6) . . . [the] term [debt collector] also includes any person . . . in any business the principal purpose of which is the enforcement of security interests.” McCarthy, in enforcing security interests, is subject to the specific prohibitions contained in 1692f(6) but is not subject to the FDCPA’s main coverage. Congress may have chosen to treat security-interest enforcement differently from ordinary debt collection to avoid conflicts with state nonjudicial foreclosure schemes; this reading is supported by legislative history, which suggests that the present language was a compromise between totally excluding security-interest enforcement and treating it like ordinary debt collection. View "Obduskey v. McCarthy & Holthus LLP" on Justia Law

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A debt collection letter that informs the consumer of the total, present quantity of his or her debt satisfies 15 U.S.C. 1692g notwithstanding its failure to inform the consumer of the debt's constituent components or the precise rates by which it might later increase. Such a letter does not violate section 1692e for failure to inform the consumer that his or her balance might increase due to interest or fees when the letter contains the "safe harbor" language previously ratified in Avila v. Riexinger & Associates, LLC, 817 F.3d 72 (2d Cir. 2016). In this case, after plaintiff received a debt collection letter from CMS, he filed suit against the company under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims, holding that CMS's letter complied with sections 1692g and 1692e. View "Kolbasyuk v. Capital Management Services, LP" on Justia Law

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Kamal visited various J. Crew store, making credit card purchases. Each time, Kamal “received an electronically printed receipt,” which he retained, that “display[ed] the first six digits of [his] 6 credit card number as well as the last four digits.” The first six digits identify the issuing bank and card type. The receipts also identified his card issuer, Discover, by name. Kamal does not allege anyone (other than the cashier) saw his receipts. His identity was not stolen nor was his credit card number misappropriated. The Third Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Kamal’s purported class action under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA), which prohibits anyone who accepts credit or debit cards as payment from printing more than the last five digits of a customer’s credit card number on the receipt, 15 U.S.C. 1681c(g), for lack of Article III standing. Absent a sufficient degree of risk, J. Crew’s alleged violation of FACTA is “a bare procedural violation.” View "Kamal v. J. Crew Group, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the district court's dismissal of his action against the Department of Education for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Plaintiff's action stemmed from defendants' treatment of an allegedly fraudulent student loan in plaintiff's name. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the action based on lack of jurisdiction because Congress had not waived sovereign immunity for suits under the FCRA. The court held that the purported FCRA waiver in this case fell short of being unambiguous and unequivocal. View "Robinson v. US Department of Education" on Justia Law

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Crown buys defaulted consumer debt, then refers the accounts to third-party servicers for collection or hires a law firm to file a collection lawsuit. Crown does not contact consumers directly. Crown purchased Barbato’s credit card debt and referred the account to Turning Point for collection. Crown’s obligation to pay Turning Point was contingent upon Turning Point’s success; Crown established settlement guidelines. Turning Point sent Barbato a collection letter, identifying itself as a “Collection Agency” and Crown as its client and left voicemail messages. Crown did not directly communicate with Barbato, nor did it review or approve the letter. When Barbato filed for bankruptcy, Crown closed Barbato’s account. Barbato sued under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692(a), identifying Crown as a “debt collector.” The Supreme Court decided (Henson) that “[a]ll that matters is whether the target of the lawsuit regularly seeks to collect debts for its own account or does so for ‘another.” The district court concluded that Henson pertained only to the “regularly collects” definition of “debt collector” and did not affect its holding that Crown was a debt collector under the “principal purpose” definition. On interlocutory appeal, the Third Circuit affirmed. An entity that acquires debt for the “purpose of . . . collection” but outsources the actual collection activity qualifies as a “debt collector.” View "Barbato v. Greystone Alliance LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiff’s two-count petition, holding that the district court erred in holding that a seller of auction services of certain machinery is entitled to summary judgment on a claim brought by a buyer of those services under the Door-to-Door Sales Act (DDSA), Iowa Code chapter 555A. Plaintiff brought this action claiming a violation of the DDSA and seeking a declaratory judgment challenging the underlying sales contract because of an invalid execution by a third party and because of fraud in the inducement. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant, concluding, among other things, that the DDSA does not apply to a contract for auction services, such as the contract in this case. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Defendant was not entitled to summary judgment on the DDSA claim where Defendant presented no evidence that Plaintiff’s purpose in purchasing the auction services was not “primarily for personal, family, or household purposes”; and (2) because the declaratory judgment count had allegations beyond the DDSA the district court erred in dismissing this count of the petition. View "Morris v. Steffes Group, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the the district court granting summary judgment in favor of MaineStream Finance on Jacob Berry’s complaint seeking the return of a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro, holding that summary judgment was improper on the facts of this case. In 2016, MaineStream filed an action against Dwight Moody, Berry’s uncle, to repossess two race cars - including the car called “Outlaw" - that Moody had pledged as collateral in a security agreement. The court found that Moody was the owner of Outlaw and entered a final judgment. In 2017, Berry brought this action against MaineStream, alleging that MaineStream wrongfully seized his 2016 Chevrolet Camaro. The district court granted MaineStream’s motion for summary judgment based on MaineStream’s assertion that, in the 2016 action, the court determined that Moody owned the car and that Berry was barred from seeking relief pursuant to the doctrine of res judicata. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment, holding that summary judgment was improper because the record did not establish that Outlaw was the same vehicle was the one that was at issue in the instant case. View "Berry v. Mainstream Finance" on Justia Law

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Kenneth Taggart appealed a superior court order affirming a trial court’s verdict on mortgage foreclosure in favor of Great Ajax Operating Partnership (“Great Ajax”). The Pennsylvania Supreme Court concluded Great Ajax or its predecessors failed to provide pre-foreclosure notice before initiating a second mortgage foreclosure action as required by the Loan Interest and Protection Law, 41 P.S. sections 101-605 (“Act 6”). In reaching this conclusion, the Court held the purposes of Act 6 were served by requiring each action in mortgage foreclosure to be preceded by a separate pre-foreclosure notice. A lender may not recycle a stale pre-foreclosure notice that it issued in connection with a prior complaint in mortgage foreclosure. Because Great Ajax failed to provide a separate pre-foreclosure notice before initiating the second action, the superior court's judgment was reversed. View "JP Morgan Chase Bank v. Taggart" on Justia Law