Justia Consumer Law Opinion Summaries

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The Court of Appeals answered in the affirmative two questions certified to it by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in this case involving New York's current usury laws.Specifically, the Court of Appeals held (1) a stock conversion option that permits a lender, in its sole discretion, to convert any outstanding balance to shares of stock at a fixed discount should be treated as interest for the purpose of determining whether the transaction violates the criminal usury law, N.Y. Penal Law 190.40; and (2) if the interest charged on a loan is determined to be criminal usurious under N.Y. Penal Law 190.40, the contract is void ab initio pursuant to N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law 5-511. View "Adar Bays, LLC v GeneSYS ID, Inc." on Justia Law

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Gray received emergency medical care at St. Mary Medical Center, owned and operated by Dignity Health. He received a bill that included an “ ‘ER LEVEL 2 W/PROCEDU’ ” charge. Gray claims Dignity’s failure to disclose, before providing emergency medical treatment, that its bill for emergency services would include such a charge—either by posting “signage in and around” the emergency department or “verbally during the patients’ registration process” —is an unfair business practice under the Unfair Competition Law (UCL) and unlawful under the Consumers Legal Remedies Act (CLRA).The court of appeal affirmed the dismissal of the suit. Gray does not claim that by including an ER Charge in its billing, Dignity violated any of the extensive state and federal statutory and regulatory laws governing the disclosure of hospital billing information and the treatment of persons presenting for treatment at an emergency department. Nor does he take issue with the hospital’s “chargemaster” amount for the Level 2 ER Charge, which his medical insurance largely covered. View "Gray v. Dignity Health" on Justia Law

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The Court of Chancery adopted Verizon Communications Inc.'s proposal for the amount of security required for its indemnification claim relating to national consumer-oriented class actions, holding that Altaba, Inc. (the Company) shall reserve $400 million as security earmarked for that claim, inclusive of the $58.75 million that the Company had paid to fund its share of the settlement.The Company, formerly known as Yahoo! Inc., publicly disclosed massive data breaches only after selling its operating business to Verizon Communications Inc. The Company's customers filed a series of national customer class actions. The parties to the class actions subsequently reached a global settlement, which the federal district court approved. The Company then dissolved. Verizon possessed a contingent contractual claim to indemnification from the Company for fifty percent of the liabilities associated with the class actions, and the Company proposed an amount of security that Verizon rejected. This proceeding followed, with the Company claiming that no security was required for Verizon's indemnification claim. The Court of Chancery held that the Company failed to carry its burden of proving that its proposed amount and form of security would be sufficient to satisfy Verizon's claim for indemnification if it matured and adopted Verizon's proposal for an amount. View "In re Altaba, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of appeals issued one opinion to address two petitions for writ of certiorari filed by Clifford Cain, Jr. and Tasha Gambrell challenging the outcome of their putative class actions against Midland Funding, LLC, holding that the court of special appeals erred in part in the case of Cain and did not err in the case of Gambrell.Cain and Gambrell (together, Petitioners) filed two putative class action cases against Midland, alleging improper debt collection activities in connection with money judgments that Midland obtained against Plaintiffs during a period when Midland was not licensed as a collection agency under Maryland law. In Cain's case, the circuit court entered an order granting summary judgment to each party in part and a separate declaratory judgment declaring the rights of the parties. In Gambrell's case, the circuit court granted Midland's motion to dismiss. The court of appeals concluded that Petitioners were not entitled to relief. The Court of Appeals reversed in part, holding (1) Maryland recognizes cross-jurisdictional class action tolling; (2) in Gambrell's case, the lower courts did not err; and (3) as to Cain's individual claims, the court of special appeals erred in part. View "Cain v. Midland Funding, LLC" on Justia Law

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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