Justia Consumer Law Opinion Summaries

by
Deborah and Dallas Platt purchased a 2016 Winnebago Era RV in 2016. This purchase was subject to Winnebago’s New Vehicle Limited Warranty, which required the Platts to bring the RV for repairs to an authorized dealer and then, if those repairs were insufficient, to Winnebago itself before they could bring an action against Winnebago. The RV suffered from a litany of defects and the Platts took it in for warranty repairs to Camping World of Golden, Colorado (Camping World), an authorized Winnebago dealership, on numerous occasions for numerous separate defects within the first seven and a half months of their ownership. When the Camping World repairs did not resolve the Platts’ issues with the RV, they scheduled an appointment for repairs with Winnebago in Forest City, Iowa, but they subsequently cancelled the appointment, claiming they had "lost faith" that Winnebago would repair their RV. The Platts sued Winnebago for breach of express and implied warranties under both the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and Colorado state law, and also for deceptive trade practices in violation of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act (CCPA). Winnebago filed a motion for summary judgment which the district court granted, dismissing all of the Platts’ claims. The Platts appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Platt v. Winnebago Industries" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of an eleven year old boy in an action alleging that Credit One violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by making 189 automated calls to his cell phone. In this case, Credit One was trying to collect past-due payments from a customer, but, unbeknownst to the bank, the customer's cell phone number had been reassigned to Sandra Lemos, who in turn had let her son, N.L., use the phone as his own. The panel joined every circuit to have addressed this issue and held that the consent of the person it intended to call did not exempt Credit One from liability under the TCPA. Therefore, Credit One cannot escape liability under the TCPA and upheld the district court's determination that Credit One was liable for the calls made to N.L. The panel also held that, in light of Marks v. Crunch San Diego, LLC, 904 F.3d 1041 (9th Cir. 2018), the district court properly instructed the jury on the definition of an "automatic telephone dialing system." Because the jury instruction on this definition is consistent with Marks, the panel held that Credit One's challenge to it failed. View "N. L. v. Credit One Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

by
The Oklahoma Supreme Court granted certiorari to address first impression questions of: (1) whether a home warranty plan met the definition of an insurance contract; (2) and if it was insurance, whether a forced arbitration clause in such a contract was unenforceable under the Oklahoma Uniform Arbitration Act; (3) whether 12 O.S. 2011 section 1855 of the Oklahoma Uniform Arbitration Act was a state law enacted for the purpose of regulating insurance under the McCarran-Ferguson Act; and (4) whether pursuant to the McCarran-Ferguson Act, did section 1855 preempted the application of the Federal Arbitration Act. The Supreme Court answered all questions in the affirmative. View "Sparks v. Old Republic Home Protection Co., Inc." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit against Silverstar, alleging that it intentionally misrepresented the condition of the used Ferrari it sold him. A jury awarded plaintiff $20,201 in compensatory and incidental damages and $5.8 million in punitive damages on his claims for fraud, breach of express warranty, and deceptive trade practices under Arkansas law. The district court subsequently denied Silverstar's renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law but partially granted its motion to alter or amend the judgment, reducing the jury's punitive damages award to $500,000. The Eighth Circuit affirmed, holding that the evidence was sufficient to establish justifiable reliance on Silverstar's misrepresentations about the conditions of the car; the district court did not err in denying Silverstar's renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law on plaintiff's fraud claim where an "as is" clause does not bar an action by the vendee based on claims of fraud or misrepresentation; and the court need not address whether Silverstar should have been granted judgment as a matter of law on plaintiff's other claims for breach of warranty and deceptive trade practices, because Arkansas law allows a successful fraud plaintiff to recover compensatory, incidental, and punitive damages. The court also held that the district court did not err in reducing the punitive damages award, because the award was grossly excessive and in violation of the due process clause. View "Adeli v. Silverstar Automotive" on Justia Law

by
Six U.S. plaintiffs rented cars from Payless. Each signed a one-page agreement, itemizing charges, below the final paragraph, which provides: “I agree the charges listed above are estimates and that I have reviewed & agreed to all notices & terms here and in the rental jacket.” After they signed their agreements, the rental associate folded the agreement, placed it a “rental jacket,” and handed it back. The rental jacket bears the title “Rental Terms and Conditions” and contains 31 paragraphs. The word “jacket” appears in only the second paragraph. The twenty-eighth paragraph requires arbitration. The rental associates said nothing about the rental jacket. Lee rented a car in Costa Rica, using a two-sided document. The front side contains the details of the transaction. The back is titled “Rental Agreement” and includes pre-printed terms, including an arbitration clause. Both sides have signature lines but Lee signed the only front. Plaintiffs brought a putative class action, alleging violations of New Jersey, Florida, and Nevada consumer protection statutes, unjust enrichment, and conversion, alleging that they were charged for products and services that they had not authorized. The Third Circuit affirmed the denial of a motion to compel arbitration. The rental jackets were not adequately incorporated into the U.S. Agreements; the U.S. Plaintiffs did not assent to the arbitration provision. A genuine dispute exists over whether Lee was on reasonable notice of the arbitration provision on the backside of the Costa Rica Agreement. View "Bacon v. Avis Budget Group Inc" on Justia Law

by
Will Realty, LLC appealed the grant of a motion for relief from judgment in favor of Mark and Sally Isaacs. In 2009, Mainsource Bank, Inc., obtained a judgment against the Isaacses for the sum of $3,911,681.92 and interest in Kentucky. This judgment was assigned to Will on January 6, 2010. In 2019, Will enrolled the judgment in the judgment rolls of Hancock County, Mississippi. Will then filed writs of garnishment directed to multiple banks and the employer of Sally Isaacs. After the writs were issued, the Isaacses sought relief under our Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b), claiming the judgment was void. Will responded, arguing that the judgments had been renewed and that the statute of limitations had reset. After receiving argument, the court granted the Isaacses’ requested relief. The Mississippi Supreme Court determined that a plain reading of the applicable statute, Mississippi Code Section 15-1-45 (Rev. 2019) regarding the statute of limitations for judgments from foreign jurisdictions, the trial court correctly granted judgment in favor of the Isaacs because the statute of limitations extinguished Will’s right. View "Will Realty, LLC v. Isaacs" on Justia Law

by
Defendants CashCall, Inc. and LoanMe, Inc. (collectively “the lenders”), accessed thousands of credit reports and mailed loan offers to the consumers. Plaintiff Alexis Sosa was among those consumers. Sosa sued the lenders for accessing her credit report. During discovery, Sosa asked the lenders: of the consumers who were mailed offers, how many were actually given loans? The trial court found Sosa’s interrogatory to be irrelevant and granted the lenders’ motion for summary judgment. The Court of Appeal disagreed: Sosa's interrogatory was relevant to the lenders' intent. "the trial court’s rulings dealt a 'one-two punch' to [Sosa's] lawsuit: the court first prohibited Sosa from obtaining relevant evidence; then the court dismissed her case, in part, for lack of relevant evidence. Thus, we reverse the court’s granting of the lenders’ motion for summary judgment." View "Sosa v. CashCall, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs each obtained loans from online payday lenders affiliated with Native American tribes. Each of their lenders reported delinquencies to Trans Union. One plaintiff contacted Trans Union, which investigated and determined that the report was accurate. Plaintiffs claim that Trans Union violated Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. 1681, provisions requiring that consumer reporting agencies “assure maximum possible accuracy of the information” contained in credit reports and re‐investigate disputed items. They did not claim the reports were factually inaccurate; they took out the reported loans and did not contest the debt amounts or the reported payment histories. They claimed the reports were “legally inaccurate” because they posted “legally invalid debts” that were void ab initio under New Jersey and Florida usury laws and that “reasonable procedures designed to ensure the maximum possible accuracy” would have shown that the loans were void. They claim that Trans Union’s screening procedures showed that the lenders lacked licenses to lend outside of tribal reservations and had histories of charging interest in excess of rates permitted in certain states and that Trans Union ignored government investigations and enforcement actions. The district court granted Trans Union judgment on the pleadings. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. FCRA does not compel consumer reporting agencies to determine the legal validity of disputed debts. View "Denan v. TransUnion LLC" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court dismissing, for failure to state a claim, Plaintiff's complaint alleging that, by labeling Wesson brand vegetable oil (Wesson Oil) "100% Natural," Conagra Brands, Inc. violated Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, holding that Plaintiff's complaint clearly alleged a Chapter 93A injury for pleading purposes. After learning that Wesson Oil contained genetically modified organisms (GMOs), Plaintiff sued Conagra, the manufacturer and distributor, alleging that, by labeling the oil "100% Natural," Conagra violated Massachusetts's prohibition against unfair or deceptive trade practices. The federal district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim, concluding that Wesson Oil's label was neither unfair nor deceptive because it conformed to the Food and Drug Administration's labeling policy. The First Circuit reversed, holding that Plaintiff's claim may proceed because Plaintiff plausibly alleged that a reasonable consumer might think that the phrase "100% Natural" means that a product contains no GMOs, and then base her purchasing decision on that belief. View "Lee v. Conagra Brands, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Bateses lost their condominium through a nonjudicial foreclosure. They claim the condo complex’s management company and its law firm violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which generally defines “debt collectors” to cover parties who operate a “business the principal purpose of which is the collection of any debts” or who “regularly collect[] or attempt[] to collect” debts owed another, 15 U.S.C. 1692a(6). The Act contains a separate debt-collector definition for subsection 1692f(6), regulating parties who operate a “business the principal purpose of which is the enforcement of security interests.” General debt collectors must comply with all of the Act’s protections; security-interest enforcers need only comply with section 1692f(6). In 2019, the Supreme Court held (Obduskey) that parties who assist creditors with the nonjudicial foreclosure of a home fall within the separate definition, not the general one. Obduskey left open the possibility that these parties might engage in “other conduct” that would transform them from security interest enforcers into general debt collectors, subject to all of the Act’s regulations. The Sixth Circuit affirmed a judgment on the pleadings for the defendants. The Bateses’ complaint did not plead enough facts to take the defendants outside the separate definition for security-interest enforcers and bring them within the general debt-collector definition; there were almost no well-pleaded allegations about the principal business or regular activities of either. View "Bates v. Green Farms Condominium Association" on Justia Law