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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Petitioner’s petition alleging that the debt collection actions of the owners and operators of LifeSmile Dental Care (collectively, LifeSmile) and attorney Dennis Barton (collectively, Respondents) violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and that Barton violated the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA). The circuit court concluded (1) Petitioner’s FDCPA claim was barred by the statute of limitations, and (2) Petitioner's MMPA claim failed to state a claim because Barton’s collection activities were not “in connection with” the sale of LifeSmile’s dental services to Petitioner, and no lender-borrower relationship existed between Barton and Petitioner. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) an FDCPA violation is not time-barred simply because it restates or relates back to assertions made in a debt collection action that is beyond the one-year statute of limitations, and Petitioner identified three actions he alleged amounted an FDCPA violation occurring within a year of his filing of the action; and (2) Barton’s efforts to collect payment were an attempt to complete the transaction of the sale of dental services to Petitioner and were therefore “in connection with” the sale. View "Jackson v. Barton" on Justia Law

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Echlin received treatment at PeaceHealth but ignored multiple requests for payment. PeaceHealth referred her accounts to CCI, a purported collection agency. Under a 2004 agreement, for a fixed fee, CCI performed services related to debt-collection and PeaceHealth would suspend its in-house collection efforts. CCI independently screened each account for potential collection problems. Although PeaceHealth was generally aware of the standard format of CCI’s letters, CCI alone controlled their content without PeaceHealth’s approval. The letters were written on CCI letterhead, mailed from CCI’s in-house mailing center, and listed CCI’s contact information (PeaceHealth’s information was labeled “Creditor Detail”). The letters directed debtors to a CCI website. CCI handled correspondence from PeaceHealth debtors.CCI had no ability to process or negotiate payments but forwarded to PeaceHealth any payments it received. After two letters, accounts were returned to PeaceHealth. CCI did not participate in subsequent collection steps. Echlin filed a putative class action under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692e, 1692j. The Ninth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendants. CCI did not engage in “flat-rating,” in which a third party sends a delinquency letter to a debtor, portraying itself as a debt collector, when it actually has no real involvement in the debt collection effort. CCI meaningfully participated in PeaceHealth’s debt-collection efforts, screening the accounts, independently composing and mailing letters, responding to customer questions, and maintaining a website that allowed customers to access individualized information. View "Echlin v. PeaceHealth" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Defendant, the owner of the website on which Plaintiff found a tropical villa that did not exist, holding that the district court correctly applied Massachusetts consumer protection law and that Plaintiff’s remaining contentions on appeal were unavailing. Plaintiff was scammed into parting with thousands of dollars to reserve a imaginary vacation rental property in Belize. At the time, Defendant maintained a guarantee that offered a $1000 refund to customers that fell victim to “Internet Fraud.” In his complaint, Plaintiff alleged that the guarantee caused him to lose $46,565 by misleading him into believing that Defendant made reasonable efforts to keep fraudulent listings off its site and that Defendant was liable for common law fraud and for engaging in unfair or deceptive trade practices under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, 2(a). The district court decided against Plaintiff. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court correctly found that the guarantee was not misleading or deceptive under Massachusetts law in the manner alleged by Plaintiff; and (2) nothing about the manner in which the district court proceeded in deciding the summary judgment motion caused Plaintiff any harm. View "Hiam v. Homeaway.com, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs visited different Massage Envy locations and had massages that lasted about 50 minutes. The company advertises, on its website, an “Introductory 1‐hour Massage Session*” at the price of $50. Clicking through two links leads to a disclaimer explaining that a “[s]ession includes massage or facial and time for consultation and dressing.” Their putative class action complaint alleged that the multiple asterisks confused the average consumer and that Massage Envy deceptively hid the disclosures where they were “nearly impossible” to find. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of their claims under the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act. Massage Envy’s representations regarding the one‐hour massage session were not the but‐for cause of any alleged injury as required by the Illinois law. There is no allegation that plaintiff’s belief about the length of the massage caused her to make the appointment; only the receipt of a gift card caused her to book a massage. With respect to Missouri law, the complaint failed to allege that a deceptive representation from Massage Envy caused plaintiff to suffer an ascertainable loss of money. View "Haywood v. Massage Envy Franchising, LLC" on Justia Law

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Linderman bought an Indianapolis house in 2004 and lived there with her ex-husband, their children, and her parents. In 2013, Linderman left and stopped paying the mortgage loan. The others left in 2014. The unoccupied structure was vandalized. U.S. Bank, which owns the note and mortgage, started foreclosure proceedings. The vandalism produced insurance money that was sent to the Bank. The city notified Linderman of code violations. Linderman hired a contractor. In 2015 the Bank disbursed $10,000 for repairs. The contractor abandoned the job. The house was vandalized twice more; a storm damaged the roof. Linderman has not hired a replacement contractor or asked the Bank for additional funds but inquired about the status of the loan and the insurance money. The Bank sent a response. Asserting that she had not received that response, Linderman sued under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, 12 U.S.C. 2605(e)(1)(B). The Seventh Circuit affirmed the rejection of her claims. None of Linderman’s problems with her marriage and mental health can be traced to the Bank. Linderman does not explain how earlier access to the Bank’s record of the account could have helped her; some of her asserted injuries are outside the scope of the Act. The contract between Linderman and the Bank, not federal law, determines how insurance proceeds must be handled. Contract law also governs the arrangement between Linderman and the contractor. View "Floyd v. U.S. Bank National Association" on Justia Law

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At issue was the definition of “debt collector” under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93, 24, specifically its application to the statute’s licensing requirement. Plaintiffs individually filed suit against Defendant, alleging unlicensed debt collection, violations of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, and unjust enrichment. A superior court judge consolidated the cases and certified them as a class action. The judge then concluded (1) Defendant violated Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93, 24A because it operated as a debt collector without a license; and (2) Defendant met the exemption from liability in Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, 3 because the division of banks of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation had permitted Defendant to operate without a license. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment, holding that Defendant was not a debt collector under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93, 24 because neither of the statute’s two separate definitions of “debt collector” applied to Defendant. View "Dorrian v. LVNV Funding, LLC" on Justia Law

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At issue was the definition of “debt collector” under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93, 24, specifically its application to the statute’s licensing requirement. Plaintiffs individually filed suit against Defendant, alleging unlicensed debt collection, violations of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, and unjust enrichment. A superior court judge consolidated the cases and certified them as a class action. The judge then concluded (1) Defendant violated Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93, 24A because it operated as a debt collector without a license; and (2) Defendant met the exemption from liability in Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, 3 because the division of banks of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation had permitted Defendant to operate without a license. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment, holding that Defendant was not a debt collector under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93, 24 because neither of the statute’s two separate definitions of “debt collector” applied to Defendant. View "Dorrian v. LVNV Funding, LLC" on Justia Law

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A buyer is not a prevailing party entitled to recover attorney's fees under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act if, through settlement with the manufacturer, all she obtains by litigating is the payment of dealer add-ons for which the manufacturer is not responsible and the payment of attorney’s fees. The Court of Appeal affirmed the denial of attorney's fees in this case where the parties entered into a confidential settlement leaving attorney's fees and costs unresolved. The court modified the judgment to award costs because the buyer obtained a net monetary recovery by virtue of the settlement. View "Garcia v. Mercedes-Benz USA" on Justia Law

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This case centers on efforts to collect payment for medical services. Medical Recovery Services, LLC (“MRS”), appealed a district court decision affirming rulings of the magistrate court in favor of the patient, Jared Neumeier. Neumeier’s doctor’s billing agent assigned the delinquent account to MRS for collection. Neumeier did not receive any attempted communications from his doctor’s office or MRS, nor did he receive any other form of demand for payment related to the delinquent account. Neumeier saw his doctor for other unrelated medical services, which resulted in a separate bills that were submitted to insurance for payment. MRS eventually sent a letter addressed to Neumeier at his correct address. The one-page letter was attached to MRS’s complaint and was the only communication to Neumeier from either his doctor or MRS. The letter listed Neumeier’s contact information, the amount owed (exclusive of interest), the name of the creditor (MRS), and paraphrased recitations of the required inclusions under the Fair Debt Collections Act. The undated notice letter did not identify the doctor or connect the debt with a particular bill or treatment. Without a response from Neumeier, MRS requested its legal counsel to file an action to recover the debt. Neumeier visited his doctor under the belief that the notice letter was a fraud or scam. During this visit, the office discovered that it had never submitted the bill to Neumeier’s insurer; however, the office also informed Neumeier that the account had already been assigned to MRS for collection. On the same date, MRS filed a complaint against Neumeier, seeking a total award of $1,891.37, including $958.63 for the principal amount, $282.39 in statutory prejudgment interest, and attorney’s fees and costs. The next day, Neumeier contacted MRS and was informed that he was “too late.” Neumeier was subsequently served with a complaint and summons. The bill subject to the collection action was eventually submitted to insurance, and all but a $42 co-payment was paid. The doctor’s office waived the co-payment. Once the account was satisfied, MRS refused to drop its suit, claiming it was still owed pre-judgment interest. A magistrate found MRS was not owed interest, and dismissed the case. The Idaho Supreme Court found no error in that judgment, and affirmed the magistrate’s decisions. View "Medical Recovery Svc v. Neumeier" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment against Specialized Loan Servicing, in an action alleging violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) and the Minnesota Mortgage Originator and Servicer Licensing Act. The court held that plaintiff failed to prove actual damages under RESPA and therefore he failed to establish an essential element of his federal claim. In this case, the bank records that plaintiff obtained for 2012 and 2013 were irrelevant to the dispute whether his loan payments were past due before June 2011. In the alternative, plaintiff did not produce evidence to support a finding of "pattern or practice" here, and there was no evidence that Specialized failed to investigate and respond reasonably to qualified written requests from other borrowers. Consequently, the court reversed as to the state law claim as well. The court remanded with directions to enter summary judgment for Specialized on the RESPA claim and for further proceedings on the claim under the Minnesota Act. View "Wirtz v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC" on Justia Law